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MBABANE – He might have not impressed the consultants engaged to recruit a CEO for Eswatini Television Authority (ESTVA), but the Ministry of ICT likes him.

A senior government official who could not differentiate whether ESTVA was a public or national broadcaster might assume the position of Chief Executive Officer CEO on an acting basis. This is what the consultants hired by ESTVA Board to recruit the CEO said about the officer who is set for secondment: “His profile reveals that he has been a Board member of ESTVA recently. During the interviews, he could not bring the advantages of having been involved with ESTVA at strategic level to bear. For instance, in his presentation, he could not clearly differentiate whether ESTVA is a public or a national broadcaster.”

worrying factor

The consultants added: “This is a worrying factor because he appears not to have a full understanding of the mandate and strategic placement of the Authority (ESTVA). Despite that he has been involved at Board and director level; he insisted that ESTVA is a national broadcaster.” The Broadcasting Bill, if passed by Parliament and assented to by His Majesty the King, will then transform ESTVA into a national broadcaster. It has since been established that the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology has recommended to the Standing Committee on Public Enterprises (SCOPE) for the secondment of the said officer to ESTVA. His name is being withheld to protect him from potential public ridicule. Highly classified information reveals that he had been earmarked for a three-year secondment, to which SCOPE objected. It only approved of a period not exceeding six months – not three years as this period was given to substantive CEOs.

When SCOPE reportedly enquired about the officer’s perceived conflict of interest, as he was one of the candidates who applied for the vacant post of ESTVA CEO, the ministry is said to have responded that he was no longer interested in this position. It is said that they assured the committee that one of the main duties of the officer entailed facilitating the recruitment of the substantive CEO.

highly contested

The highly contested ESTVA CEO post is expected to form part of the Cabinet agenda on Tuesday. This was revealed by well placed sources, who were monitoring the issue very closely.
The issue of ESTVA has been a thorny one since the retirement of the late Bongani ‘Gcokosiyancinca’ Dlamini on January 31, 2021. As a matter of fact, the post of ESTVA CEO has been attracting controversies since the days of the late Dan Dlamini in the early 1990s. Celani Ndzimandze took over, but his contract was terminated on February 25, 2005 after a lot of infighting at ESTVA. At some point, the late Sabelo Masuku acted as the CEO, and his term was short-lived, as he faced numerous challenges there. Vukani Maziya’s tenure was not a rosy one as his confirmation was not approved by the late Sibusiso Barnabas Dlamini’s administration, despite the fact that he had passed the interview with flying colours.

eventually endorsed

It was the administration of former Prime Minister Absalom Themba Dlamini, which eventually endorsed the consultancy’s recommendation for the appointment of Maziya. His first assignment was a tough one as he had to deal with the then Director of Outside Broadcasting Unit (OB), Qhawe Mamba, who was employed by ESTVA, yet was also operating a private television station, Channel Swazi, now known as YemaSwati Channel. He created enemies for removing Mamba from ESTVA. He died in July 2010, while still holding the position of ESTVA CEO. ‘Gcokosiyancinca’s tenure of officer as the CEO met resistance as he had to offload staff that earned high salaries. He created enemies for declaring certain positions as redundant. For what he did, there were former employees who shunned the jurisdiction and competence of the Industrial Court and Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration Commission (CMAC) in preference of the Ludzidzini Royal Council, which had been hearing their grievances.

Vusigama Khumalo came in, to act as the CEO during the suspension of ‘Gcokosiyancinca’. It was not long before he faced challenges. Gcokosiyancinca bounced back, and Khumalo had to vacate the office. Since the retirement and unfortunate death of the former CEO, the public enterprise has been without a substantive CEO. It must be said that Kenneth Maziya has been acting as the CEO of ESTVA for 18 months. During the recent interviews for the post of CEO, Maziya became No.1. Consultants recommended for his appointment as the CEO of ESTVA. Princess Sikhanyiso, the Minister of ICT, did not endorse the recommendation.

Legal challenge

It must be said that the ESTVA Human Resource Policy, which is aligned to the Government General Orders, provides that an officer should not act for six months. For over six months, the policy states that the officer must be confirmed to the position. In the case of Maziya, investigations revealed that his contract was terminated before the lapsing of the six-month period. He would take a two-day break before he received another letter of appointment. This happened for a period of 18 months. Sipho Gumedze, a seasoned attorney, said the two-day break might work against Maziya. “They were clever enough to dribble the officer you are talking about. He may not have a case if he were to sue,” he said. Another attorney, preferring to address the issue on condition of anonymity, said the two-day breaks were meaningless because the acting occurred continuously. This was confirmed by a labour officer who pointed out that the appointing agency (Ministry of ICT) should have allowed two or more officers to hold the positions in turns.

He said allowing Maziya to hold the position for almost two years could work against ESTVA Board and Ministry of ICT. “Maziya can have strong points to win the case if he takes it to court,” said the labour officer. Mncedisi Mayisela, the ESTVA Corporate Affairs Manager, declined to comment on the matter. Maziya said he was also not in a position to say anything about it.

involved in the decision

Asked if he was involved in the decision to ask for the secondment, Prince Sicunusa, the Chairman of the ESTVA Board, said he was not part of that resolution. “It’s very important to do things after consultations. If it’s true that there is a secondment, I am not aware of it because I was not consulted and I did not have any input,” he said. He said he would be expected to prepare a contract for the seconded acting CEO, yet he was not involved in the identification of the candidate to hold the position on an acting basis. The chairman was asked why the Board did not advise the minister that Maziya’s continuous acting could pose a legal challenge to both ESTVA and government. He said he thought the minister would confirm Maziya as the substantive CEO. The prince who doubles as a chief of Mgazini in Mankayane mentioned that he had not received reasons from the ministry for not endorsing the consultancy’s recommendation on the appointment of Maziya.

He pointed out that he was informed about the reasons for declining the appointment of Mncedisi Mayisela, as he was subject of a select committee appointed by the House of Assembly.
However, Justices John Magagula, Cyril Maphanga and Nkosinathi Maseko ruled that: “The report, findings and recommendations of the House of Assembly’s Eswatini Television Authority Parliament Select Committee are hereby declared null and void.” The judges further said: “The 3rd respondent is hereby interdicted and restrained from acting on the findings and recommendations of the Eswatini Television Parliament Probe Select Committee.” Sources told Times SUNDAY that Cabinet had appealed against factoring in the report of the select committee as they went back to carry out a second recruitment exercise.

Phesheya Dube, the Principal Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of ICT, said he was not allowed to talk about the issue of secondment because it was a confidential one. Dube had also applied for the position of ESTVA CEO before he was appointed into the PS position. Section 8 (1) of the Public Enterprise Act, 1989, provides that the Board, which is referred to as the governing body, is responsible for the nomination of the CEO. It reads: “Except in the case of the University of Swaziland (Eswatini), the governing body of each category A Public Enterprise shall nominate the chief executive officer who shall be appointed, or who may be dismissed by the minister responsible acting in consultation with the Standing Committee.”

scored high

In the second recruitment exercise conducted by SAMKHO, Mncedisi Mayisela and Kennth Maziya scored high, as they both attained 83.3 per cent. SAMKHO stated that if Maziya was not appointed, Mayisela should be considered for the job or alternatively Phesheya Dube. The final interview results produced by SAMKHO were as follows –
*Kenneth Maziya – 83.3 per cent;
*Mncedisi Mayisela – 83.3 per cent;
*Phesheya Dube – 64.6 per cent;
*Titus Mavimbela – 46.7 per cent.

According to the advert released by ESTVA, the suitable candidate for the CEO post should possess the following –
*The CEO should be a dynamic leader who will be responsible for the overall strategic direction and transformation of the organisation towards international standards.
* The suitable candidate will also be responsible for the development and implementation of the strategic plan in line with the industry best practices.
*The candidate should ensure policy development and decision-making support to the Board and provide secretariat and advisory service to the board;
*The suitable candidate should have a combination of qualifications, skills, and experience deemed to be essential for satisfactory performance in the position.
*The candidate should be a holder of a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) or Business Management or equivalent, with a minimum of 10 years experience working as a member of executive management.
 *The candidate should have good knowledge of the film and television industry.

It was stated in the advert that the appointment of the CEO would be subject to verifications, psychometric assessments and reference checks. It was also stated that correspondence would be limited to shortlisted candidates.

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