Dodgy contracts at 'rotten' media agency

2017-09-14 20:18
Donald Liphoko (File, GCIS)

Donald Liphoko (File, GCIS)

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Cape Town – The board of the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) tried to remove the agency's acting CEO because he put a stop to dubious contracts, Deputy Minister of Communications Tandi Mahambehlala told Parliament on Thursday.

She and Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo addressed the portfolio committee on communications on the turmoil at the MDDA, following a meeting between the three members of the inquorate MDDA board and the portfolio committee on August 29.

At this meeting, the board, led by its chairperson, Phelisa Nkomo, put much of the blame for the agency's woes on its acting CEO Donald Liphoko.

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After Nkomo's presentation, the committee gave Liphoko a chance to speak, and he blamed the board for mismanagement at the entity and said workers were being intimidated. The committee rejected the MDDA board's presentation.

"After I was appraised on what transpired on 29 August 2017 I was not happy," said Dlodlo.

She said the report presented to the committee on that day was not sanctioned by her.

'Untenable situation'

Several members of the committee pointed out that the MDDA's presentation dealing with its performance differed substantially from that of Dlodlo, who described the MDDA's performance as "almost, if not completely, dismal". 

She said the relationship between Nkomo and Liphoko, who was seconded by her to the MDDA in May, was "non-existent" and affected service delivery.

"At this point, the chairperson does not have the confidence of the acting executive. The chairperson does not have the confidence of the staff. It is an untenable situation," said Dlodlo. 

She said Liphoko also did not do tasks that she assigned him.

She asked the committee to allow her some time, until the board was quorate, to implement steps to turn the MDDA around.

In contrast, Mahambehlala said she didn't think the filling of vacancies on the board would address the issue.

"From where I'm seated, the MDDA is rotten," she said.

Call for inquiry

She said she stopped working with the board as it would be illegal to work with an inquorate board and that according to legislation, the CEO becomes the accounting officer when the board is inquorate.

Mahambehlala said a report had been compiled in 2015 with findings against Nkomo but that its recommendations had not been implemented. 

"Had [the report's recommendations] been implemented, we would not be sitting here today," she said.

She said Liphoko cancelled irregular contracts, and that was the reason the board had tried to fire him.

"The board has no powers to remove Donald (Liphoko)," she said.

"The chairperson of the MDDA has a track record of terrorising everybody at the MDDA.

"I want to request the portfolio [committee]... the same way you intervened with the SABC, is how you should intervene with the MDDA," Mahambehlala said.

Last year the committee resolved to have a parliamentary inquiry into the SABC, which led to the ad hoc committee that investigated the SABC board.

All the members of the committee expressed an appetite for some form of inquiry, but chairperson Humphrey Maxegwana made it clear that such a decision would only be taken after the committee had deliberated on the matter after receiving more reports at their next meeting on October 6. 

Read more on:    parliament  |  mdda  |  media

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