Ayanda Dlodlo. Picture: GCIS/ELMOND JIYANE
Ayanda Dlodlo. Picture: GCIS/ELMOND JIYANE

The CEO of the embattled Media Diversity and Development Agency (MDDA)‚ Donald Liphoko‚ has been axed after the board leveled allegations of misconduct against him.

However, serious allegations of misconduct have‚ in turn‚ been leveled at the board itself. Now there’s talk of an inquiry to try to resolve long-standing problems plaguing the agency.

Liphoko confirmed on Friday that his secondment to the agency had been rescinded and that he was still "trying to process this".

In May‚ Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo sent him to the agency and his axing makes him the seventh acting CEO to be fired in three years, with the reasons for his dismissal still not yet clear.

In August, problems at the agency came to a head when Liphoko accused the board of "institutionalising a culture of intimidation" during a briefing of the parliamentary portfolio committee on communication. The committee media reports reveal multiple letters of complaint from MDDA staffers over a period of several months.

"What I see is the three members instilling a culture of intimidation‚ [all interfering] in the operations of the agency‚" Liphoko told the committee. "They target non-cooperating employees‚ they arbitrarily change their responsibilities‚ assassinate their characters." He also spoke of how the chairperson‚ Phelisa Nkomo‚ had had him locked out of the agency’s offices.

MPs were shocked and mooted an inquiry after the annual report revealed that the agency‚ with a R60m annual budget‚ has a deficit of R12m and that auditors had flagged irregular expenditure of R6m.

DA MP Veronica van Dyk said in a statement on Friday that it had become evident the agency was in a "total state of dysfunction". "There are clearly deep-rooted problems at the MDDA, and the bickering between Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo and her deputy‚ Tandi Mahambehlala‚ has clearly resulted in this matter deteriorating even further‚" Van Dyk said.

"It is therefore of absolute importance that Parliament performs its oversight and investigate the operational problems at the MDDA."

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