Mass employee exodus at SITA, as resignations mount

Samuel Mungadze
By Samuel Mungadze, Africa editor
Johannesburg, 02 Nov 2022

The State Information Technology Agency (SITA) has been hit by a mass employee exodus, recording 39 resignations, including senior managers, in the past three months.

This, as some current and former employees allege “undue” board interference in operational issues.

SITA denies the interference allegation, but confirmed the departure of the employees, saying: “The majority of those who left (33 of the 39), resigned for new career opportunities.”

SITA spokesperson Tlali Tlali rejected allegations of interference at the agency, telling ITWeb the resignations in the period are “still within the acceptable attrition rate given the highly mobile IT workforce”.

“Please take note that in relation to your first question, for the same period in 2021, we experienced a total of 42 resignations. I hope this provides better context and makes the attrition rate clear and fairly consistent.”

However, the employees, who fear adverse action if named in this story, are bemoaning a “higher-than-usual number of employees leaving” the tech agency, due to alleged board involvement in executive decisions.

They contend the new SITA board has an oversight role, but lately it is increasingly taking an active role in executive decisions, including on-boarding of new staff members who are purportedly aligned to certain directors.

To this, Tlali responded: “The SITA structure is still as it was when this new board was appointed in February 2022. Whilst new roles cannot be ruled out, they will always be driven by business needs and requirements, and will follow the prescribed recruitment processes.”

Alleged interference in procurement matters is another bone of contention regarding resignations, as supply chain issues have been flagged as a further catalyst for the departures.

ITWeb understands the head of SITA procurement and another senior manager have been placed on suspension, which has also been flagged as a concern.

“We confirm that a senior manager at SITA and one other official were placed on precautionary suspension in July this year. Due to the confidentiality clauses in the employment contracts with the employees concerned, we are not able to provide any further details on this matter," Tlali responded to ITWeb, without naming the suspended individuals.

The employees contend procurement issues at SITA go against president Cyril Ramaphosa’s recommendation that “no board member will be allowed to be involved in procurement processes beyond playing an oversight role”.

Ramaphosa gave his counsel on boards recently, as he submitted his action plan on the State Capture Commission to Parliament, saying: “The commission found the appointment and removal of board members and senior executives in state-owned enterprises was one of the key causes of state capture.

“The lack of compliance, transparency and accountability in the appointment of board members not only enabled the capture of these companies, but also contributed to a decline in their operational and financial performance.”

Responding to Ramaphosa’s recommendation on boards, Tlali says: “SITA is currently developing what will constitute oversight, so as to comply fully with the president’s pronouncements.

“SITA has also enquired with National Treasury, as the custodian of public procurement prescripts, on this pronouncement and will comply with all the necessary guidance and National Treasury directives.”

On procurement concerns, Tlali explains: “SITA has delegated transactions to various governance structures due to the magnitude of the organisation.

“All awarded contracts and projects are considered following SITA’s procurement policy by delegated governance structures.

“All awards have to comply with applicable supply chain management prescripts and internal supply chain management guidelines and procedures.”

The 11-member board was appointed early this year. It is made up of Makano Mosidi, who serves as chairperson of the board; Dr Stella Bvuma as deputy chairperson; Shery-Lee Moonsamy; Nolitha Pieterson; Zimbini Hill; Olwethu Ketsekile; Dr Tshilidzi Ratshitanga; Dr Rendani Ramabulana; Jeanette Morwane, DCDT representative; Laura Mseme, National Treasury representative; and Willie Vukela, representative from the Department of Public Service and Administration.