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Johannesburg - The National Development Agency’s entire board has been subpoenaed to appear before the public protector to explain allegations of irregular appointments, abuse of power and maladministration at the embattled state entity.
But the board is still investigating the allegatons after receiving anonymous complaints from several staff members unhappy with the management of the agency.
The board is expected to appear before the public protector early next month.
The public protector’s probe follows a complaint against the agency by Matshepo Mobeng, the board’s former company secretary, last year. The Sunday Independent reported last year that Mobeng was suspended and later dismissed after she blocked the appointment of an unqualified candidate as assistant company secretary.
Board chairman Malose Kekana confirmed the board had been subpoenaed but would not elaborate.
Commenting on allegations of deep-rooted unhappiness among staff about the management of the agency, Kekana said the board constituted an independent ad hoc committee to “get to the truth of these matters”.
The committee was being helped by a senior counsel and the board was awaiting its report.
Public protector spokesman Oupa Segalwe said the investigation transcended Mobeng’s suspension and dismissal.
“It covers allegations of maladministration and abuse of power relating to the irregular appointment of an assistant company secretary, among other things,” he said.
The agency’s executive committee and some of its managers have appeared before the public protector.
It is the second time the board has been subpoenaed. At the last request it asked for an opportunity to consider the matter first.
The hearing, which was scheduled for tomorrow, has been postponed until next month when the board can be present.
The board will have to explain how the candidate for assistant company secretary was approved despite Mobeng’s objections.
The candidate was chosen over two others, who had university degrees, despite only having a matric certificate and a one-year certificate.
The R700 000 per annum job required a tertiary qualification in law or finance and five to seven years in a company secretarial environment but the qualification and experience requirements were later changed to “administration” rather than legal or finance.
When Mobeng protested in May last year, she was charged with insubordination and told to appear before a disciplinary committee.
She allegedly won her case, but a decision was taken that she could no longer be employed at the agency.
In January Mobeng was dismissed.
It is understood Mobeng is also challenging this dismissal.
Mobeng would not comment on this. She confirmed that the matter was being investigated by the public protector but said she did not want to prejudice this matter any further by discussing it.
The Sunday Independent understands that senior managers at the agency refused to work with Mobeng because of her complaint to the public protector.
The poverty-alleviation agency, which funds projects run by civil society organisations in poor communities, has been plagued by allegations of infighting, divisions, poor management, favouritism and jobs for pals.
In two years, the agency has lost eight staff members, six of whom had resigned after being suspended.
At the centre of the allegations is the agency’s chief executive Vuyelwa Nhlapo, who suspended Mobeng.
Staff members have complained to the board of Nhlapo’s alleged poor leadership and unprofessional conduct.
The agency’s former chief operating officer, Rashida Issel, before she resigned last year, wrote to the board’s chairman, Kekana, accusing Nhlapo of creating an environment where mistrust, uncertainty, division, organisational politics and low morale flourished.
She said Nhlapo’s culpable conduct forced her out.
Nhlapo has been accused of hiring a communications consultant on a one-year contract worth R60 000 a month that was never advertised.
She allegedly paid R500 000 for a diagnostic study used to force opponents out of their jobs.
Nhlapo did not respond to media queries.