Mbabane: There is a long bitter history between the Director – Martin Dlamini and his Deputy – Gcinangaye Tsabedze at the Eswatini Broadcasting Information Service (EBIS) caused by the previous Prime Minister’s relationship with the latter.
This was revealed by the report tabled by the Select Committee that was probing serious allegations of corruption, nepotism and maladministration reported to be rampant at the Eswatini Television Authority (ETVA) and Eswatini Broadcasting and information Services (EBIS).
Through the submissions made by the director of the national radio station before the committee, it was learnt that the former PM insisted on working through and with the deputy which bred nepotism and divisions. The director stated that recruitments occurred in what he termed a “parachute mode” allegedly engineered by the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology, US and former PHRO.
He further alleged that many officers at EBIS had no qualifications, especially in the engineering section. However, he did not explain to the committee what he was doing or had done to rectify this potentially dangerous situation.
The director further stated that in so far as affairs in the workplace were concerned, the ones that were problematic were the ones between the senior management and the staff such as the affair between the Deputy Director and the Principal Engineer. He made an example that a staff approached him to be assigned staff accommodation and expressed that she felt the Deputy would thwart this because the deputy believed that this staff member was intimate with her lover, the Principal Engineer.
He said the schisms or divisions discouraged order and encouraged open intimate relationships that led to disrespectful conduct among the staff. In this regard he failed again to explain to the Committee what measures he has employed to end workplace affairs as he himself as the controlling officer stated how disruptive and undesirable they are between employees.
The Director mentioned some ineptitudes at the office of the HR. He also stated that the training plan is in the custody of and is the scope and ambit of the HR office, and the Director has nothing to do with who attends studies. He stated that the station needs a seasoned HR who will not take sides like the one at the station. Someone who will ensure that disciplinary procedures are completed. Not someone who involves herself in some of the affairs at the station. There is a lot of ill-discipline at EBIS.
Principal Secretary Nhlanhla Nxumalo was invited to appear before the committee as they needed further clarification on some of the issues at EBIS.
The PS explained that the relationship between the Director and the Deputy is not a good one at the station. The late PM is the one who contributed to this by giving the Deputy the powers to nominate staff for international assignments. He stated that he is very aware of it and has fallen victim to it. He has attempted to separate the two but there is no instrument from the CSC to do this because any other action would be liable to legal action. He submitted that he has told both parties that he will have to recommend that they be removed from the station if this situation persists because their feud is hurting the station. They really cannot get along for anything.
The Deputy seems to be usurping the powers of the Director when she should defer to him. At times she would even arrange or postpone meeting unilaterally without informing the Director. The PS has talked to the Deputy to inform her colleague and superior about any events that are happening because at the end of the day it is the Director who is accountable as the controlling officer at the station. She did not seem to receive this advice well. The other problem is the issue of the cliques/ camps which makes the station unmanageable. It would be better if both of them got reassigned to other Ministries so that a new person can take over and reunite the cliques at the station.
He stated that he is aware and has addressed the issue of the staff member that was told to just stop working. This matter is now with the Ministry for disciplinary purposes and will be forwarded to the CSC with a recommendation on what should happen to this staff member. There is also the matter of the suspended marketing staff that was suspended with pay five years ago, that matter is sub-judice (before a court of law) at the moment and therefore the PS could not be drawn to comment on it. The marketing section has no staff because even the lone staff member that was there is now off on maternity leave. However there are about three (3) one-year temporary appointments that have been recently made to run this section. Hopefully the court case will have been disposed of by then.
He then alluded to the four (4) ETVA staff members that were dismissed under a cloud and against the advice of the Minister. The CEO has been asked to hold these matters in abeyance however he unilaterally went ahead and sacked the staff. The willy-nilly dismissal of staff at ETVA is a concerning and common occurrence that has been ongoing for quite a while now.
The PS submitted that at the time of making these submissions the CEO was off on leave.
He emphasised that any time EBIS or ETVA staff reports of any concerns or complaints to the Ministry, those concerns are dealt with definitively.
He admitted that the style of work at EBIS, which is characterised by shift work and holidays, makes them seem like they fall under essential services but nothing formal has been done by the Public Service to address this. The staff are not receiving any overtime in their salary as compensation for the hour they work. The Ministry of Public Service is the one that can straighten out this issue.