SIU makes moves to remove fund’s chief executive

2014-09-07 15:00

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As questions swirl around the Universal Service and Access Fund, the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) is desperately trying to remove its chief executive.

In the latest papers filed last week, the anticorruption body revealed for the first time that the Universal Service and Access Agency’s chairperson had asked in 2012 for Zami Nkosi’s name to be removed from the “long list” of 100 candidates who had applied for the position when it was advertised.

Paul Modipa, a programme manager at the SIU, said in an affidavit that a witness – an employee at the agency who was involved in the recruitment process – was “instructed” by agency chairperson Pumla Radebe “to remove the name of Mr Nkosi from the long list and to cut the list down to 50 candidates”.

Modipa’s affidavit describes how Nkosi left Joburg waste utility Pikitup – where he was managing director – under a cloud.

Radebe was the chairperson of Pikitup during Nkosi’s tenure and Nkosi cited her as a reference on his CV.

Modipa said: “Ms Radebe would have been aware of the circumstances under which Mr Nkosi left Pikitup. She must have had his name withdrawn because in her capacity as chairperson of the board?...?she held the view that Mr Nkosi was not suitably qualified, experienced or fit to compete for or hold the position of CEO of [the agency].”

The SIU has made an application to the North Gauteng High Court to remove Nkosi from his post on the grounds that his appointment was irregular.

It claimed the agency’s board appointed Nkosi at the behest of former communications minister Dina Pule in April last year. It relied on the minutes of board meetings that suggested Pule had pressured the board.

The SIU said Nkosi “created and filled new positions which did not exist”.

But Nkosi and the agency’s board have hit back at the SIU’s claims. In response to the application, Radebe said Pule did not interfere with Nkosi’s appointment, but that Radebe had consulted her to obtain her input on the three candidates short-listed after the agency’s internal recruitment process.

Radebe blames suggestions in the minutes that Pule had applied pressure on the board on the minute taker’s poor grasp of English, as well as the fact that the minutes were not taken verbatim because deliberations on the candidates were done during a closed session when the minute taker was not present.

A supporting affidavit by board member Seadimo Chaba stated the board decided to update Pule on the three candidates but Pule had reservations.

Radebe said: “Her advice was that if I agreed with her views, I ought to recommend that the recruitment process be started afresh. She thought that a head-hunting process might produce a suitable candidate.”

Chaba said the board had noted Pule’s “suggestion” that it consider the option to embark on a head-hunting process.

After deliberating, the board decided to use Leago Human Capital, a company linked to Phosane Mngqibisa, who was found by Parliament’s ethics committee to be Pule’s boyfriend.

Radebe’s affidavit suggests the board abandoned the initial requirements advertised in favour of the more general requirements for the CEO of the agency as provided for in the Electronic Communications Act.

Modipa has contradicted this, providing proof that the mandate to Leago included the original job advertisement. “Apart from the mandate to Leago – also sent to nine other service providers – there is no other evidence of the head-hunting requirements. Nor is there any evidence of the board changing those head-hunting requirements,” he said.

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