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CEO scarcity at comms and digital tech entities requires urgent remedy

Read time 5min 40sec
Six entities reporting to the communications and digital tech ministry are led by acting CEOs.
Six entities reporting to the communications and digital tech ministry are led by acting CEOs.

In addition to working on the structure of a consolidated ministry, the newly-named Department of Communications and Digital Technologies (DCDT) must find permanent executives to head up some of the entities reporting to it.

The DCDT is the result of the merger between the Department of Communications (DOC) and Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services (DTPS), undoing a 2014 decision to split the ministries.

While the split was in place, the DTPS was charged with overseeing six state-owned entities (SOEs): Broadband Infraco, Sentech, State IT Agency (SITA), Universal Service and Access Agency of SA (USAASA), National Electronic Media Institute of SA (NEMISA) and the SA Post Office.

On the other hand, the DOC exercised oversight over the Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA), Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA), SABC, Film and Publication Board (FPB), Government Communication and Information System and Brand SA.

The consolidation of the DOC and DTPS means all the entities now report to the new DCDT, which is tasked with driving SA’s ICT agenda.

However, half of the department’s entities are currently led by chief executive officers in acting capacities. They are: SITA, USAASA, MDDA, Brand SA, NEMISA and FPB.

SITA

When former CEO Dr Setumo Mohapi decided to leave SITA after his contract ended in March, the agency found itself appointing its 19th CEO in its 20-year history.

SITA revealed that after four years at the helm, Mohapi was not staying on as chief executive, despite the board's offer to extend his contract for another six months.

The state IT arm confirmed the appointment of acting CEO Nthuthule Tshenye as of 1 April, saying it will soon initiate a process to find a permanent replacement for Mohapi.

Tshenye, an executive for strategic stakeholder management at SITA, will hold the acting position until a permanent chief executive is found, said the agency at the time.

Mohapi has been widely praised for his efforts to turn around SITA.

During his time at SITA, he was vocal about legacy issues and bad practices that created a negative public perception of the government IT procurement agency.

Under his watch, SITA initiated a clean-up exercise to root out corruption. This undertaking, which included an internal forensic investigation, unearthed large-scale corruption within the organisation's operations, Mohapi revealed at the time.

Industry watchers said SITA's next CEO should help the agency continue on the path to restoration to become an industry leader that functions efficiently and effectively.

Former SITA CEO Dr Setumo Mohapi left the agency after his contract ended in March.
Former SITA CEO Dr Setumo Mohapi left the agency after his contract ended in March.

USAASA

Former USAASA CEO Lumko Mtimde left the agency in May, when his employment contract came to an end after three years. He has been replaced by Sipho Mngqibisa, also in an acting capacity.

Mtimde was appointed as CEO of USAASA in May 2016. Mtimde, at the time, replaced Zami Nkosi, who made a quiet exit from the agency in April 2016, when his contract was not renewed.

The former USAASA CEO was candid about the agency’s troubles when he joined, saying his immediate goal would be to bring stability to the embattled organisation.

However, his tenure courted controversy, especially in relation to SA's multibillion-rand digital TV set-top box tender saga.

In 2018, the USAASA board suspended Mtimde pending a disciplinary hearing. At the time, the agency said the suspension was related to allegations of various acts of misconduct.

Following his suspension, Mtimde took USAASA to the labour court. He also asked public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane to investigate alleged abuse of power by the board.

He was later reinstated when former DTPS minister, Siyabonga Cwele, dismissed the USAASA board of directors based on the findings of the public protector’s report.

Commenting on his next move, Mtimde said he would be “taking a break at home till further notice”.

Lumko Mtimde’s contract expired on 22 May, after three years as USAASA CEO.
Lumko Mtimde’s contract expired on 22 May, after three years as USAASA CEO.

Brand SA

On 15 April, Brand SA announced the appointment of Thulisile Manzini as acting CEO, with immediate effect.

At the time, the entity admitted Manzini’s appointment came amid a number of organisational challenges, which included the suspension of Dr Kingsley Makhubela as CEO.

Makhubela was suspended as a result of a number of charges being pursued through a disciplinary process.

Prior to joining Brand SA, Manzini was deputy director-general for governance and administration at the DTPS, a position she has held since January 2016.

Her portfolio included anchoring efficiencies in business operations by driving strategy, financial services, providing sound human capital management as well as overseeing legislative mandates.

The acting CEO’s other senior and executive management roles include acting as director-general, COO, chief of staff, chief director of corporate services at the Department of Public Service and Administration, as well as head of corporate services at the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agency.

Her portfolio included anchoring efficiencies in business operations by driving strategy, financial services, providing sound human capital management as well as overseeing legislative mandates.

Brand SA was established in 2002 to help create a positive and compelling brand image for the country.

Thulisile Manzini serves as Brand SA’s acting CEO.
Thulisile Manzini serves as Brand SA’s acting CEO.

MDDA

In December 2017, the MDDA appointed William Baloyi as acting chief executive officer of the agency, adding that the recruitment of a permanent CEO was under way.

The MDDA described Baloyi as a communications professional with vast experience in media relations on all levels of government, as well as internationally. The agency noted he served as director of media relations within the Presidency.

However, as of last year, Zukiswa Potye has been quoted as the MDDA’s acting CEO.

Potye has 24 years’ work experience in the private and public sectors, according to her GCIS profile. She also served as chief director responsible for corporate planning, risk management and performance monitoring and evaluation at the GCIS.

The MDDA promotes and assists in the development of community media and small commercial media in SA and the transformation of the media, by providing financial and capacity-building support in terms of the MDDA Act No 14 of 2002.

It also aims to raise public awareness with regard to media development and diversity issues, and encourage media literacy and a culture of reading.

Meanwhile, the FPB’s executive team is made up of Dr Maria Motebang as acting CEO. NEMISA is led by Phuti Phukubje, serving as board member and interim CEO.

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