Durban - Lindiwe Sisulu, the minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation, has defended her decision to appoint a former ANC Youth League leader to a critical position to chair the interim board of Umgeni Water, the second-biggest bulk water supplier in the country after Rand Water.
On Wednesday, Sisulu announced the appointment of Magasela Mzobe to chair the 11-member board of the entity that supplies cities like Durban, Pietermaritzburg and Port Shepstone with bulk water and has assets worth billions.
The appointment was met with murmurs as Mzobe is deemed to be lacking corporate boardroom experience and is only seen as a “political operative”.
Mzobe, who hails from Newcastle, was once the national coordinator of the ANC Youth League task team that ran the league’s affairs after the expulsion of Julius Malema.
Responding to Independent Media on Thursday about the murmurs that Sisulu appointed Mzobe as part of building a political power block in KZN ahead of the 2022 elective conference of the ANC, where she is expected to throw her hat into the ring, her spokesperson, Yonela Diko, said that was not true.
Diko said Sisulu was satisfied that Mzobe has all the qualities needed by the board of the water entity. He added that board appointments generally follow principle 7 of King IV (a guide to corporate ethics for board members), which requires a balance between knowledge, skills, experience, diversity and independence and we think this new interim board has that balance.
“There are also important qualities the minister looks at in the composition of the board and its chairperson. Passion is important, particularly deep interest in the mission of the entity and the community it serves.
“Vision and leadership, diligence, ability to work well with others and of course discretion. The minister is satisfied that the interim board, in its composition, as well as the chairperson (Mzobe), meets most of the requirements and qualities of board compositions as per King Code and other relevant acts,” Diko said.
Diko also said Sisulu denies the swirling allegations that she appointed Mzobe because she was building a future political power base in KZN, one of the biggest provinces of the ruling ANC.
“The frivolous and baseless accusations against the minister may well be from people who don't want change, who have been well served by the status quo, of a department that for years has been failing in every governance indice (sic) and on a road to financial ruin.”
Despite repeated attempts to get Mzobe to comment regarding the allegations and to publicly state his qualifications, he did not take up the offer. Messages sent to him on Thursday were read but not responded to.