MDDA hits back at critics while further mismanagement surfaces

2017-09-06 21:48
Minister of Communications Ayanda Dlodlo. (Photo: GCIS)

Minister of Communications Ayanda Dlodlo. (Photo: GCIS)

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Cape Town – As further allegations of mismanagement surfaced, the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) hit back at its critics.

The portfolio committee on communications on Wednesday received a briefing from the department of communications on the first quarter of the 2017/18 financial year.

The Auditor General (AG) found the following areas that needed strengthened controls at the MDDA:

-    material misstatements in the MDDA’s performance information;

-    irregular expenditure of R6.7m;

-    procurement and contract management, where no declaration forms were used and the preference points allocations wasn’t in line with the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act (PPPFA) and BBBEE;

-    misstatements on the annual financial statements; and

-    the senior management and accounting authority did not exercise adequate controls and oversight on performance information and financial information to the AG.

It was expected that the committee would have heard from Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo and her deputy Tandi Mahambehlala on the MDDA after last week’s dramatic meeting, but the committee heard on Tuesday evening that Dlodlo was unavailable.

She was to deliver a keynote address during the Fourth Industrial Revolution High Level Dialogue in KwaZulu-Natal. Mahambehlala offered an apology.

Acting CEO gets flack

At last week’s committee meeting MDDA chairperson Phelisa Nkomo put much of the blame for the agency's woes on Donald Liphoko, who was seconded to act as the agency's CEO by Dlodlo.

After Nkomo's presentation, the committee gave Liphoko a chance to speak.

He said workers at the MDDA were being intimidated and likened what is happening at the MDDA to what happened at the SABC. 

Three days after the meeting Liphoko reported a "very unusual event" at his house to the police after his gate's motor was disabled. According to the subsequent security assessment, this was part of the modus operandi of the suspected intruders to have him get out of his vehicle.

On Wednesday the MDDA board released a statement, stating that following the committee meeting, Dlodlo dispatched a fact-finding team to the agency to obtain further information on the breakdown of relations between the board and Liphoko.

ALSO READ:  Tension at MDDA simmering for some time

“All Board members have duly availed themselves given their commitment to transparency and good governance and in the interests of the MDDA and the public it serves, particularly community media,” reads the statement.

“At all times the MDDA Board has been transparent with the Executive Authority and Parliament on the challenges facing the Agency.”

Misconduct charges

The board says its relationship with Liphoko broke down to his “failure to disclose to the board and to the Portfolio Committee that he is facing misconduct charges at the GCIS”.

“The board deliberately avoided mentioning this to the Portfolio Committee, we thought it was his responsibility to do so.”

The board further alleges that Liphoko “failed to execute responsibilities emanating from the Annual Performance Plan for the last four months”.

“All these activities were in mature stages and required completion. Several letters were sent to Acting CEO asking him to explain his conduct. He has not done so. He also failed to explain his non-execution of responsibilities during a mediation meeting that was held by the Minister on the 17th August.”

“The board is taken aback by the reports in media that the acting CEO’s safety seems to have been compromised. This is a serious matter and should be handled promptly by the SAPS and other law enforcement agencies.

"The board is puzzled by the decision of the CEO to discuss the incident and its details on media platforms as it could potentially compromise further investigation.

The board said the alleged victimisation of staff members is unknown to board members and a petition in this regard is yet to be verified.

"The Board is of the view that the negative portrayal of deteriorated relations between the Board and staff has no basis but pure gossip," the statement reads. 

Meanwhile, the committee on Tuesday evening recommended three candidates to fill the non-executive board positions at the MDDA. 

They are Martina Della-Togna, Nombeko Mbava and former ANC Youth League leader Ronald Lamola.

The Committee received 73 applications, shortlisted nine and interviewed seven candidates.  

Nomination process

The Right2Know Campaign earlier on Tuesday said they are “extremely concerned about the current MDDA board nomination process”. 

R2K questioned the due diligence with regards to the short-listing of candidates. 

“It is R2K’s position that the MDDA should be independent [and insulated] from both political and corporate influence - like the SABC and IEC - and should account only to Parliament,” reads R2K’s statement.

R2K urged the committee to reopen the MDDA board nomination process “in order to ensure that strong, independent board members with a mix of relevant experience and skills are appointed”. 

Read more on:    mdda  |  ayanda dlodlo  |  cape town  |  media  |  parliament 2017

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