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Parly committee calls for executive changes at TIA

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Dr Stephen Lennon serves as chairperson of the TIA, despite permanently residing in Australia.
Dr Stephen Lennon serves as chairperson of the TIA, despite permanently residing in Australia.

Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Technology has called for the removal of both the interim chairperson and CEO of the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA).

This as the TIA has failed to resolve the matter of its interim chairperson, Dr Stephen Lennon, who was appointed even though he resides permanently in Australia.

An agency of the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), the TIA is mandated to invest in and support innovators, entrepreneurs and SMEs to commercialise their technology innovations. However, the entity has a long history of mismanagement.

In a statement, the committee says the arrangement where government pays for Lennon’s travel and accommodation costs, so that he can attend meetings and complete other business for the TIA in SA, is not in the best interests of the agency, especially given the entity’s budget constraints.

As a result, committee chairperson Philly Mapulane has urged Dr Blade Nzimande, minister of higher education and the DSI, to resolve the anomaly by appointing an interim board chairperson who resides in the country.

“We wish to implore the minister to adhere to the cost containment measures as pronounced by the minister of finance.”

Turning to the interim CEO, the portfolio committee says the appointment of Fuzlin Levy-Hassen in this role must be immediately terminated.

According to the committee, Levy-Hassen was a former TIA board member, who in her personal capacity had bid for a tender with the agency before her appointment.

“Notwithstanding the declaration she made to the board for her bidding for the tender, three months prior to her appointment as the acting CEO, the committee is of the opinion that this practice of appointing a former board member who wanted to do business with the agency three months before her appointment, is not in keeping with the principles of good corporate governance practice and ethics, and has to be immediately addressed.”

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