Public protector: CEO, CFO resign

The two top administrators in the office of the public protector have both resigned. (Gallo)

The two top administrators in the office of the public protector have both resigned. (Gallo)

The two top administrators in the office of Thuli Madonsela, the public protector, have both resigned.

The public protector’s office on Tuesday confirmed that both chief executive Themba Mthetwa and chief financial officer Dumisani Dlamini have resigned their posts. Their duties will be handled by “experienced officials” until they are formally replaced, with the process of advertising the jobs already underway, spokespeople for Madonsela said.

Although Madonsela’s office downplayed the effect the resignations will have, and linked the two official’s decision to remuneration and opportunity, the Mail & Guardian understands that staff at the institution remain divided, and morale low.

“Mr Mthethwa’s extended employment contract expires on December 31 2014,” a spokesperson said in response to questions. “He resigned, indicating that he got a better offer elsewhere.
Mr Dlamini also got a better offer elsewhere.”

Mthethwa could not immediately be reached for comment, but Dlamini said he was returning to the property sector, where he had previously worked.

“This is my personal decision,” Dlamini said. “There is no bad blood, but truly my personal decision.” 

He referred further questions to formal channels.

‘Worrying signs’
In 2012 Mthethwa was the target of an anonymous report, apparently penned by a group of public protector staffers, in which the writers complained that he had misled Parliament about a case-management system crucial to the daily operations of the office. However, the writers laid the ultimate blame at Madonsela’s door, saying she had “chosen to ignore the worrying signs that have corroded the institution and the result is a demoralised, bitter, distrustful complement of staff.”

Deputy public protector Mamiki Shai subsequently complained to Parliament that the institution lacked methods to resolve disputes, and accused Madonsela of political bias and favouritism. Shai has since been replaced, and Parliament largely dismissed the various complaints as office politics.

Rumours of divisions within the office have swirled ever since, with some blaming political differences between staff as to how the executive and the ANC should be handled, while others ascribe all arguments to apolitical careerism and ladder-climbing.

One source within the office on Tuesday said Dlamini in particular had suffered ill treatment and abuse. He would not comment on the other rumours.

Madonsela’s office dismissed, out of hand, suggestions that the resignations were linked to the allegations made by Deputy Minister of Defence Kebby Maphatsoe, offering no evidence of any kind, that she may be a CIA spy. It also denied any link with the 2012 complaints and allegations. But it did allow that administrators are not highly paid, something that could make the two posts more difficult to fill, even without a strained work environment.

“Due to the public protector South Africa’s limited resources, the CEO and CFO are appointed at lower levels compared to their equals in government,” spokespeople said in response to questions. “For example, the CEO should have been at the level of a director-general while the CFO should have been at the level of the deputy director-general.”

Phillip de Wet

Phillip de Wet

Phillip de Wet writes about politics, society, economics, and the areas where these collide. He has never been anything other than a journalist, though he has been involved in starting new newspapers, magazines and websites, a suspiciously large percentage of which are no longer in business. PGP fingerprint: CF74 7B0F F037 ACB9 779C 902B 793C 8781 4548 D165 Read more from Phillip de Wet

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