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I was a victim, says suspended Seta manager

2019-07-10 13:55

Suspended Services Seta senior manager Lehloma Ramajoe believes that, because he questioned the status quo at the office, he became a victim.

He said, previously, managers were required to report directly to the chief executive officer (CEO). However, after a restructure of the top brass, managers were required to report instead to Seta executives.

Ramajoe had questioned why senior managers had not been consulted to follow this procedure.

This week Ramajoe spoke to City Press after sources revealed during our investigation into the Seta that he was among the employees who were allegedly being victimised for speaking out.

City Press began investigating the Seta after receiving a tip-off that there was more going on at the Seta than was covered in the preliminary report by the National Skills Authority (NSA), which was released in September last year.

The NSA, an advisory body to the ministry of higher education, had been investigating allegations of maladminstration at the Seta.

In its preliminary report, the NSA made a finding that some of the senior managers, who were appointed to newly created executive positions, did not meet job requirements for the posts. These were the executives to whom Ramajoe and other senior managers were allegedly instructed to report.

His troubles, Ramajoe said, started when he questioned why senior managers were not consulted before being informed that they were required to report to the executives rather than directly to the CEO.

He said this was the case before the previous board decided to review the organogram of the Seta in 2013.

Ramajoe said he was called into a meeting by the former board chairperson, Themba Mhambi, to discuss his concerns.

Mhambi is now chairperson of the SA National Roads Agency.

Ramajoe alleged Mhambi was angry with him at the meeting.

After Mhambi’s term came to an end last year, Ramajoe said previous board members – who were brought back to the new board after their nominations were approved by former higher education minister Naledi Pandor in April last year – suspended him in July last year.

At the time, Ramajoe alleged the new board was not fully constituted as it had only six members, instead of the required 15.

Ramajoe said the board members voted for him to be investigated with another board member, Shadrack Motloung.

His matter is being heard at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

Responding through his lawyers, Mhambi distanced himself from the Seta board, saying its members were appointed by Pandor.

“I did not have any role to play with regard to both the nomination and the appointment of any Services Seta board member – not before I became chairperson of the board, not during my tenure as chairperson and certainly not after my chairpersonship of that board,” he said.

Mhambi said he did not recall discussing anything to do with Ramajoe with the executives.

“As chairperson of the board, certainly while Mr Ramajoe and I were contemporaneous at the Seta, I was not involved in the appointment of executives. That was handled by an ad hoc committee – of which I was not a member – of the board tasked with that responsibility, including conducting of interviews and recommendations of candidates for appointment.

“I can, however, confidently say all the executives appointed by the Seta during my chairpersonship of its board were appointed procedurally and in terms of the set and approved requirements. I am not aware of any of them not meeting the requirements, something which, in my capacity as an overseer of the performance of the board committees, I would have found, and which would have led to a negative audit finding by the Auditor-General if it had happened,” Mhambi said.

Ramajoe believes the decision to suspend him was an attempt to derail his ambition of becoming the Seta’s CEO, a position which he had applied for at the time.

He said he met the requirements for the post as he had two masters degrees for business administration and law.

Nompilo Sidondi, legal services acting executive manager, who responded on behalf of the Seta, said at no stage was the board not fully constituted.

She said Ramajoe’s suspension had nothing to do with his application for the CEO position or his alleged concern about the appointment of executives being done without consultation.

“That being said, we deny the allegations made [by] Mr Ramajoe. We are advised that these appear to be legally inaccurate and we are confident that the domestic enquiry presided over by an arbitrator as well as the secondary referral to the CCMA, dealing specifically with his suspension, will demonstrate that the Services Seta has acted above and beyond reproach insofar as Mr Ramajoe is concerned,” Sidondi said.

The appointment of executives, Sidondi said, required no consultation process.

“It is not clear why Mr Ramajoe thinks the accounting authority should have consulted him prior to appointing executives,” she said.

Responding through his lawyers, Mhambi distanced himself from the Seta board saying they were appointed by Pandor.

“I never ever had any role to play with regard to both the nomination and the appointment of any Services Seta board member – not before I became chairperson of the board, not during my tenure as chairperson, and certainly not after my chairpersonship of that board.”

Mhambi said he did not recall discussing anything to do with executives with Ramajoe.

“As chairperson of the board, certainly while Mr Ramajoe and I were contemporaneous at the Seta, I was not involved in the appointment of executives. That was handled by an Ad-hoc Committee – of which I was not a member – of the board tasked with that responsibility, including conducting of interview and recommendations of candidates for appointment.

"I can, however, confidently say all the executives appointed by the Seta during my chairpersonship of that Seta’s board were appointed procedurally and in terms of the set and approved requirements.

"I am not aware of any of them not meeting the requirements, something which, in my capacity as an overseer of the performance of the board committees, I would have found, and which would have led to a negative audit finding by the Auditor General if it had happened,” Mhambi said.

Ramajoe also believes that a decision to suspend him was also an attempt to derail his ambition of becoming the Seta’s CEO – a position, which he had applied for at the time.

He said he met the requirements for the post as he has two masters degree for Business Administration and Law.

Nompilo Sidondi, legal services acting executive manager, who responded on behalf of the Seta, said at no stage was the board not fully constituted. She said they had nine board members at the time.

She said Ramajoe’s suspension had nothing to do with his application for the CEO position nor his alleged concern about the appointments of executives being done without consultation.

“That being said we deny the allegations made [by] Mr Ramajoe, we are advised that these appear to be legally inaccurate and we are confident that the domestic enquiry presided over by an arbitrator as well as the secondary referral to the CCMA, specifically with his suspension will demonstrate that the Services Seta has acted above and beyond reproach insofar as Mr Ramajoe is concerned,” Sidondi said.

The appointment of executives, Sidondi added, required no consultation process.

“It is not clear why Mr Ramajoe thinks the Accounting Authority should have consulted him prior to appointing executives,” she said.


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November 10 2019