Samsa whistle-blowers ask minister to intervene

2017-07-30 05:54
SA Maritime Safety Authority acting CEO Sobantu Tilayi says he has inherited a ‘big mess’. Picture: Mandla Mnyakama

SA Maritime Safety Authority acting CEO Sobantu Tilayi says he has inherited a ‘big mess’. Picture: Mandla Mnyakama

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Disgruntled SA Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa) employees have asked for Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi’s intervention in ending “arbitrary” salary increases and a jobs-for-pals scandal at the parastatal.

Staff members at the head office of Samsa – a parastatal tasked with maritime safety, combating maritime pollution and promoting the country’s maritime interests – described the institution to City Press as a boat being sunk by nepotism and cronyism.

City Press is in possession of a complaint written by whistle-blowers to Minister Maswanganyi listing a number of allegations against acting CEO Sobantu Tilayi.

In the document they ask Maswanganyi to investigate employment and financial irregularities at the parastatal before appointing a new CEO.

Tilayi has been acting CEO for about a year.

The complaint states that:

- A senior manager (whose name is known to City Press) with only a matric certificate was reinstated to his job after testifying against former CEO Tsietsi Mokhele in an internal investigation. The manager had been suspended but his suspension was lifted without his undergoing the full disciplinary process;

- A human resources officer employed last year had her R724 000 salary inexplicably increased to R1.5m within a year of her employment;

- Tilayi’s close friend was appointed as regional manager without having the necessary qualifications;

- Posts were filled without them having been advertised; and

- An official’s salary was increased from R862 000 to R1.7m on the basis of an unsubstantiated agreement with the former CEO.

“Tilayi has allegedly approved back payments from 2013 and an adjustment of his salary package without any documentation that proves that the former CEO indeed increased his salary,” the complaint said.

Tilayi denied that he arbitrarily increased salaries and blamed his predecessor for reneging on promises he made to employees.

“There have been no arbitrary salary increases. When I took over, employees doing similar jobs were paid vastly differently. Certain employees were complaining that they were earning less than what they were before joining Samsa.

"A few employees resigned because of this and a few more were threatening to resign, thus causing a great deal of instability,” Tilayi said.

Transport spokesperson Ishmael Mnisi did not respond to questions sent to him by email, text and voice message.

The staff’s complaint alleged that the organisation did not have a formal performance management or job grading system.

It said that although it listed a few high-profile cases for investigation, there were similar cases involving junior and middle management staff who have also had salary adjustments, despite the company struggling financially.

Tilayi said he had started a process of salary grading to resolve the “big mess” he inherited.

“None of the adjustments we made was baseless … The fact of the matter is that I inherited a big mess that had caused much unhappiness and people stayed because they had not found better employment elsewhere.

"This was always a ticking time bomb,” he argued.

The complaint also pointed out that there had been an increase in legal challenges by staff members, including executives, who had been dismissed or had their contracts irregularly terminated.

The board, the complaint charged, had failed to address allegations of fraud from whistle-blowers and instead placed a corruption-busting hotline in the hands of officials implicated in wrongdoing.

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