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SITA boss looks to fill several key C-level roles

Simnikiwe Mzekandaba
By Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, IT in government editor
Johannesburg, 26 May 2023
(Photograph by Lesley Moyo)
(Photograph by Lesley Moyo)

Several top management positions remain vacant at the State IT Agency (SITA).

The entity does not have a chief information security officer (CISO), chief information officer (CIO) and chief operations officer (COO), said MD Dr Bongani Mabaso in an interview.

Mabaso officially joined SITA at the beginning of the government financial year, 1 April, following the announcement of his appointment in December.

According to Mabaso, there’s “a lot” missing within the SITA organisational structure, in particular the aforementioned positions, which are considered fundamental for any organisation.

While many functions are represented lower down, the agency doesn’t have the necessary strategic representation at an executive committee level, he explained.

“We don’t have a CISO, for example. For me, that’s scary in an organisation of this size that is meant to have cyber security as one of its biggest deliverables, from a government perspective.

“We don’t have a CIO – someone that looks after all internal systems,” he added, noting that he already sees the impact this has on the organisation.

“Basic automation for our own processes is just lacking. There’s no one department that says: this is my duty. As a result, it tends to fall by the wayside.

“We don’t have a COO, which is the biggest gap for me − someone that worries about delivery to clients end-to-end. Someone to ensure that as soon as an order comes in, the entire value chain of delivery – from a repeating order, a renewal of an agreement and a new request – is taken care of.

“Someone to look at all of our processes and make sure they are optimal for client delivery. Importantly, to put the right monitoring across the value chain and identify bottlenecks, and not just at a generic level.

“For instance, everyone (even those people that don’t work at SITA) will tell you that procurement is a problem. But what about procurement is a problem – we need to know that. Is it contract management, is it the awarding, or is it the adjudication? We need to measure that so we know how to improve.”

Improving measurement across the value chain is critical and this is one of the main things the COO will be doing, notes Mabaso.

He added that filling the COO role aligns with the goal of making the organisation more client-focused. “It’s a very critical role to ensure the whole operation across the value chain is looked at and that various processes, aside from procurement, are optimised. This person will ‘eat, sleep and drink’ the client, making sure each and every single client request goes through the system without any delay.”

SITA MD Dr Bongani Mabaso. (Photograph by Lesley Moyo)
SITA MD Dr Bongani Mabaso. (Photograph by Lesley Moyo)

The COO position, which SITA is now bringing back, was there from the inception of the organisation but was moved out of the system over time, according to Mabaso.

Similarly, a few years ago, the government IT procurement arm appointed former BCX CIO Jacques Loubser to the position of chief digital officer (CDO).

His role was to lead SITA’s digital transformation and fourth industrial revolution strategies, said Loubser at the time, explaining the CDO role was part of SITA’s new journey, with a focus on ensuring the agency achieves its initiatives.

However, based on his LinkedIn profile, Loubser was only there from February 2019 to July 2020.

Given the importance of the COO position, Mabaso said the recruitment process is already under way and the best candidate will soon be shortlisted.

“Hopefully, that person will be starting in the next two months, because this is serious for our clients.”

For the CISO and CIO roles, Mabaso wouldn’t pin down specific timelines, stating it will be determined by the launch of the agency’s new strategy, roughly in the next three months.

“This will come with some organisational redesign, which might include CISOs and CIOs, and the like. I don’t want to circumvent that process, but let’s allow it to go through because there may be some interesting ways to combine certain roles that I may not envisage now.

“But the COO role, I felt, with the support of the board, is imperative. We need it right now because service delivery challenges are right now; they are not something that can wait for three or four months, or whatever the case may be.”