Suspended SA Tourism CEO Sisa Ntshona told Fin24 on Tuesday that he was surprised when he was informed by the board that they were investigating allegations against him and that he would be placed on precautionary suspension.
Ntshona said he still does not know what the allegations are that led to his suspension.
The SAT board announced on Tuesday afternoon that it would be investigating allegations that it received via its anonymous tip-offs reporting mechanism. It did not elaborate on what the allegations were and said it would not be drawn further on the matter.
'Over the moon' before suspension
"Yesterday I was over the moon about the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) report naming SA as the leading tourism destination in Africa - and then I get informed by the board about a whistle-blower tip-off making allegations," said Ntshona.
He said the board felt it would be best to suspend him while it conducted a thorough investigation, and it would later inform him of the outcome.
According to Ntshona, he has not been informed by the board of what the allegations are, so as to protect the whistle-blower's identity.
"Only once the investigation is done and the board decides on the outcome will I be informed of any charges," said Ntshona.
According to Ntshona, his suspension comes at an inopportune time. The World Travel Market Africa takes place in Cape Town in just a few weeks, and Africa's Tourism Indaba takes place in Durban in May.
The date of the latter has been changed, making for a lot of logistical work, he told Fin24.
"There is a lot in the pipeline at SA Tourism at the moment with these two big events coming up, but I have to respect the board's decision and the process involved," he said.
According to the board's statement, "in order to conduct a free and fair investigation, [the board] has decided to place the CEO on precautionary suspension".
"This would allow the CEO to focus on responding to the allegations as well as guarantee the integrity and transparency of the process to be followed," said the statement.
In the interim, Sthembiso Dlamini has been appointed as the acting CEO.