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Black IT Forum defends SARS IT boss

Read time 2min 20sec
Mmamathe Makhekhe-Mokhuane has reportedly been placed on leave until further notice.
Mmamathe Makhekhe-Mokhuane has reportedly been placed on leave until further notice.

The Black IT Forum (BITF) has pledged its support for Mmamathe Makhekhe-Mokhuane, the embattled chief officer of the South African Revenue Service's (SARS's) digital information services and technology team.

This follows her interview with the SABC, during which she was unable to explain the current state of the IT infrastructure or provide a clear assessment of the way forward.

Although Makhekhe-Mokhuane issued an apology, saying her conduct during the TV interview and at the Nugent commission of inquiry was regrettable, the BITF has labelled subsequent media reports concerning her "distasteful".

BITF is an association of black individuals formed specifically to address the poor representation of blacks in the ICT industry as both professionals and business operators.

In a statement, the association says SARS's IT infrastructure head is an ex-officio member of BITF and is a member in good standing.

It points out that Makhekhe-Mokhuane has served as a CIO for various government departments since 2002. The narrative that she was employed by now-suspended commissioner Tom Moyane and therefore is an incompetent political appointment is unfounded, it says.

"At a time when black leaders and professionals are purged and ridiculed in the media, we would like to say enough is enough...As an industry organisation that promotes transformation and an inclusive economy, we would like to pledge our support to Ms Mmamathe at this very difficult time, as we are well aware that as an assertive, respected black woman in ICT, the narrative always get changed to depict African black women in ICT as incompetent, arrogant and unprofessional.

"Ms Mmamathe was informed of the television interview the night before she was scheduled to appear at the Nugent commission of inquiry. We find it amazing how many media reports have called for Ms Mmamathe to resign or be fired when nobody called for the executives of the South African Post Office to resign or be fired when the Web site was down, or for the CIO of Liberty to resign or be fired when they had a cyber attack a few months ago. SARS eFiling has remained fully functional with no down time, since Ms Mmamathe's tenure.

"It is an indictment that in 2018, we have people punt the notion that employment equity appointments lead to a compromise in quality and service delivery, and the BITF can no longer stand by and remain silent, while such untrue narratives are perpetuated," the statement concludes.

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