Sithole must go - Samro members

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Sipho Sithole. Picture: Tebogo Letsie
Sipho Sithole. Picture: Tebogo Letsie

Members of the music rights organisation cite guilty verdict, preferential treatment as grounds for distrusting his work ethic.

Several concerned members of the Southern African Music Rights Organisation (Samro) have told City Press that board member Sipho Sithole must step down from the important music rights collection society and from the board of the Moshito Music Conference and Exhibition as they do not trust him. This is after the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) confirmed that Sithole, Prasa’s chief strategy officer, was found guilty of five charges.

Prasa spokesperson Nana Zenani would not go into detail about the charges, but said: “Prasa instituted investigations against [company secretary] Lindikaya Zide on a series of charges following a lengthy investigation [on maladministration and contravention of company policy] and a fair and transparent legal process that allowed both parties to respond. Prasa has taken a decision to dismiss Zide as a result of the guilty findings...

“Sithole was also found guilty of five charges. However, Sithole will receive a 12-month suspended sanction and will serve the remainder of his contract. The merits of Sithole’s case are fundamentally different from Zide’s,” she said.

But one prominent Samro member said this week: “We can’t be served by people who are abusing public trust. He should resign as a board member.”

Sithole told City Press that he was not bothered because the charges were unjustified. He maintained that he was only facing one charge, not five as per Prasa’s statement.

“I understand the frustration of the artists. I don’t blame them, but they don’t know the context of my charge,” he said, insisting that he is innocent of any wrongdoing at Prasa.

“I never awarded any contract. Instead I found a contract that had been in existence since 2009, which was six years before I joined Prasa. That contract was renewed in May 2012 by Prasa at a duly constituted sitting of the corporate tender committee of six executives.”

He explained that four years ago he had become aware “that there was a contract managed in my office for the printing of a commuter newspaper for Metrorail and that contract was allegedly a partnership between Prasa and a media house.

“It was expiring that very same month. I had requested that I only renew it for three months because I needed to acquaint myself with its commercial value and its deliverables. At the time I had no knowledge of its irregularity or unlawfulness, but I took comfort that the contract had been in existence since 2009 and renewed in 2012.”

But Samro members are demanding to know why Sithole is allegedly being protected by the organisation. City Press has previously reported on allegations that Samro’s former chief executive tried to offer Sithole a lucrative contract to serve as an executive at the organisation, but the former board shut it down.

A source who attended a late June Samro meeting as proxy for a Samro member told City Press: “At the first possible opportunity I asked how Sithole could chair the meeting as he had been suspended by Prasa and there does not appear to be a consistent pattern in Samro’s policy around suspending board members.

“Sithole initially responded that he couldn’t respond to my question because he was conflicted. None of the other board members seemingly wanted to answer my question, so he then said that he was in fact ‘back at the office on Wednesday, but doesn’t know when it will be reported in the newspapers’.”

The source and another Samro member complained that Sithole was getting special treatment, while musician Arthur Mafokate was forced to resign as a Samro board member after he was accused of assaulting his ex-girlfriend, Cici.

Samro did not respond to questions from City Press.

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