Meet Mr fixit, the fire-fighter

2010-11-13 17:29

The leadership vacuum at the communications department’s head

office in Pretoria and the infighting at the SABC are the most urgent tasks

Radhakrishna Padayachie would like to resolve within the next three


Padayachie, who was appointed communications minister this month,

said his department had a 30% vacancy rate and, in some cases, the most senior

officials ­occupied top posts in an acting ­capacity.

Harold Wesso is the

­department’s acting director­general after Padayachie’s predecessor, Siphiwe

Nyanda, sacked Mamodupi Mohlala.

Padayachie said he planned to fill this post and find a

spokesperson within the next three months.

He said he would attempt to bring the leadership squabbles ­between

SABC board members to an end so that the corporation could function


“The reconstruction of the ­department is an important exercise.


would like to sort out the leadership issue, get the critical staff right, look

at the organisation’s structure and see where to deploy different capacities.

While sorting out the department, you can’t allow the public entities to

continue to collapse,” he said.

The SABC, the minister said, was the “leader of the pack” out of

all the public entities under his ­department’s watch that needed urgent


As a result, the minister met the SABC board on Thursday in a bid to

resolve ­differences.

“We have to give priority attention to the SABC. The attention has

got to be focused on the stabilisation of the leadership.

If you can’t sort out

the leadership, you can’t get the corporation right.

You have to stabilise the

leadership, create greater unity within the board, resolve the problem of the

contradiction between the board and the executive management, and build greater

unity between staff and the management of the corporation,” Padayachie


“Then we need to look at the ­finances of the SABC and look at how

we can get that right. They can’t do it on their own. We have to work with the

SABC. Our task is to ensure that there is an ­environment where the thing is not


The next step would be for ­Parliament to open the process of

nominating board members to ­replace the four who resigned ­during the course of

the year.

After fixing the SABC, the minister said, he planned to move to

­Sentech, the Independent Communications Authority of SA ­(Icasa) and the

Universal Service and Access Agency of SA.

During the same period, he ­intended filling the chair’s position

at Sentech ­following last month’s resignation of Quraysh Patel.

Turning to Icasa, the minister said the regulator needed

strengthening. An Icasa Amendment Bill, he said, would be finalised and

submitted to Cabinet for approval before it was introduced to Parliament.

When asked if he could achieve his aims within such a tight

deadline, Padayachie said if he could achieve 70% of what he promised, he would

have succeeded.

“We may not achieve everything that we said here today, but how are

you going to achieve something if you don’t have a goal?” he asked. “If we score

70% of our goals, then we will have succeeded.”

At a press conference held to ­introduce the minister to the

­media, Padayachie insisted to ­acting director-general Wesso that he be called

Radhakrishna, not Roy, as he is well-known in ­political circles.

During an interview in his office, he seemed to be determined to

move away from his predecessor’s leadership style, which often led to Nyanda

making headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Nyanda and Mohlala clashed when Nyanda apparently wanted to have a

say in the awarding of ­tenders in the department. Padayachie, however, said he

would not want to be part of the procurement committee that determined who got

what tender.

“We will insist on good governance practices. Where there are

malpractices as far as tender ­irregularities are concerned, we will root them

out and stamp them out,” he said.

An invitation Padayachie’s office sent out to reporters this week

came under the theme “waves of change”, which the minister said was intended to

show that he would like to do things differently.

“The president, by appointing us now, wants us to change things,

and change things for the better. We have been asked to lead a new wave of

change,” he said.

“We want to do things ­differently – working faster, smarter and

­harder. We have an amazing ­opportunity before us,” the ­minister said.

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