Post Office acting CEO suspended over alleged irregular appointments, conflicts of interest
State-owned company says steps were taken after a whistle-blower’s report had been assessed
The SA Post Office has provided the reasons for the suspension of its acting group CEO, Lindiwe Kwele, saying it had received a whistle-blower’s report containing serious allegations including conflicts of interest and irregular extensions of contracts.
Business Day reported earlier this week that Kwele, after just four months in the role, and the head of the supply chain management division, Mothusi Motjale, were placed on suspension with full pay as of December 4. The Post Office confirmed the suspension at the time but would not give reasons for the decision, only saying there was an internal investigation
Kwele’s suspension came barely months after taking over from Mark Barnes, who resigned in August after clashing with the board and the government over their decision to hive off Postbank, the financial services arm of the Post Office, with ambitions to become a fully fledged bank.
Kwele’s lawyer Eric Mabuza, has said his client is challenging the suspension, maintaining that it is unlawful.
The Post Office gave more detail on Wednesday regarding the allegations against Kwele and Motjale. Board member Charles Nwaila said the whistle-blower’s report highlighted issues relating to alleged irregular appointments and payments to service providers, conflicts of interest, irregular extension of contracts, and the procurement and asset control of laptops, among others. “In exercising its fiduciary duty, the board considered the whistle-blower report and found the allegations to be quite serious,” he said.
Kwele and Motjale were given the opportunity to supply reasons why they should not be placed on suspension pending an investigation, Nwaila said. The board considered these representations and decided to place them on suspension to enable an “unhindered and independent investigation” into the allegations.
An external, independent service provider has been appointed and the investigation is well under way. Nwaila said the board was busy appointing a group CEO along with filling several executive positions as part of turning the Post Office around. The company would not make further comments on the suspensions, Nwaila said.
In the interim, advocate Ivumile Nongogo was appointed as acting group CEO.
The Post Office is one of several state-owned entities that has had to rely on government bailouts to stay afloat.