Any action instituted by Observer MD unlawful'
MBABANE – The board of the Swazi Observer has said that any disciplinary action instituted by the Managing Director Alpheous Nxumalo without the Board’s knowledge and authority was unlawful.
Timothy Nhleko, the chairperson of the board, in the newspaper’s responding papers to Nxumalo’s suspension case, disputed that the management of the publication was insubordinate to the lawful and reasonable instructions of Nxu-malo.
Nxumalo allegedly suspended Thulani Thwala, Alec Lushaba and Andreas Nkabinde without consultation with the board of directors of the Swazi Observer Group of Newspapers.
When he was required to explain the alleged misdemeanour, Nxu-malo took the board to court for an order interdicting it from suspending him, which order was granted, on an interim basis.
The case returns to court today.
Nhleko told the court Nxumalo was telling an untruth when he said the Tibiyo TakaNgwane Managing Director had appointed him with a specific mandate, to ensure the Swazi Observer reverted back to its original mandate which it had allegedly veered away from.
He accused Nxumalo of having breached his contract of employment by orienting the management of the newspaper about his own mission when his letter of employment outlined his core responsibilities.
He allegedly did not have anything to do with the editorial team of the newspapers.
"I dispute that the management of the Swazi Observer was insubordinate to the lawful and reasonable instructions of the applicant.
"The management and staff of the Swazi Observer were employed to realise the vision of the organi-sation and not the personal vision of the managing director," Nhleko stated.
He said if the managers of the Swazi Observer, in fact, refused to work towards realising the vision of the newspaper, he should have reported them to the board.
Nhleko said the fact that Nxumalo failed to report the managers to the board of directors was an indication that the alleged vision which he wanted them to associate with was not that of the organisation but his own and, therefore, any disciplinary action instituted by Nxumalo without the board’s authority was unlawful.
"Further, I challenge the applicant to disclose the nature of the various alleged misconduct (by the dismissed managers) so that the board can have knowledge and deliberate on them because they were never reported to it," Nhleko stated.
He continued: "Furthermore, the authority of the board should have been sought by the applicant before suspending and instituting disciplinary action against the suspended managers.
"The failure by the applicant to do so bothers around insubordination and it exposes the board to unwarranted legal action by the suspended employees to challenge their suspension."
Nxumalo’s prerogative to suspend any employees of the Swazi Observer is allegedly subject to approval by the board.
The suspension of the said managers was allegedly effected without knowledge and approval of the board.
After learning about the suspensions in the print media, the board allegedly conducted a preliminary enquiry on whether Nxumalo had the power to suspend the employees without its authority. The board allegedly viewed Nxumalo’s actions as misconduct.
The board then allegedly directed Nxumalo to explain to it in writing, the reasons that led to the managers’ suspension.
Nxumalo then approached the court on a notion that the board had decided to suspend him.
This, Nhleko described as abuse of court process at its best as the interdict was premature.
- Tintfombi Simelane, this is an interesting story to most of your readers. Please find out for us if the Observer MD was hired by Tibiyo or someone else. The story leaves us with the impression that he was 'planted' in that position by an external party without the express consent of the shareholders (Tibiyo) which is unlikely in terms of corporate governance rules. For the MD to openly defy the Tibiyo-appointed Board from the word go leaves us with a confused impression really. Where does he get the power, because he seems to have plenty of it? Where does he get the so-called 'original mandate" from, when Tibiyo seems not to know about it? Is the MD an agent of some other institution which is only known to him and kept secret from Tibiyo? It's a foregone conclusion that he's well-connected to the mighty and powerful, his breezy court case interdicting Tibiyo proved it recently. Please publish this letter so that the MD can read it himself and maybe respond to it personally. (I hear those people read the Times of Swaziland first thing in the morning because the Times is not constrained by a mysterious original mandate!). It is interesting for a competitor newspaper to rely on other for news! It's like Pepsi people relying on coke to quench their own thirst!
August 15, 2012, 10:54 am, Business Analyzer (bus-ana&yahoo.com)
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