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Turmoil at Gauteng Growth and Development Agency Escalates Amidst Legal Battles and Board Shakeup

Published December 27, 2023
7 months ago

The Gauteng Growth and Development Agency (GGDA) remains embroiled in a leadership crisis as the organization continues to operate without a permanent CEO—a situation further exacerbated by recent legal and boardroom conflicts.

In an already complex scenario, the selection process for the new GGDA head reached an impasse following legal action from Simphiwe Hamilton, the board's choice for CEO, who has been surprisingly dismissed by Member of the Executive Council (MEC) Tasneem Motara. This decision has led Hamilton down the legal route, challenging the rejection, with further complications as the case awaits a new court date after a postponement.

Adding to the intrigue, key board members, including Dr. Sibongile Vilakazi and Thembisa Fakude, saw their roles in a sudden "rotation" during an AGM on December 8, 2023. This controversial move, sanctioned by MEC Motara, entailed their replacement as chair and deputy chair, drawing criticism and speculations of vendetta amidst swirling accusations against Motara's alleged harsh governance style.

These series of events follow a turbulent period for the GGDA, which has been without a stable head since the controversial dismissal of ex-CEO Mosa Tshabalala on multiple grounds including insubordination and dishonesty—a departure that has evidently left a void in the agency's command structure and has had a tangible impact on its functioning.

According to MEC Motara's spokesperson, Gift Langa, the wait for a permanent CEO is compounded by the ongoing legal contest. There are accusations that the MEC, who also faced accusations of dissolving the Gauteng Gambling Board earlier in the year, has been excessively assertive in her management decisions. Despite these claims, Motara stands by the legality of her actions.

The drama unfolded further when allegations emerged involving Vilakazi and multiple appointments for Thandiwe Godongwana, a board member and wife of Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana. Amid speculation over Vilakazi's influence in these appointments, rotations came as a pointed move from Motara, who points to "new skill sets and operational efficiency" as reasons behind the reshuffling but which critics say are punitive measures against those who previously challenged her authority.

In the interim, the GGDA is operating under the leadership of Saki Zamxaka, CEO of the Gauteng Enterprise Propeller, who has stepped in as acting CEO. While Langa assures of stability and efficiency under Zamxaka's temporary tenure, concerns remain that without permanent leaders, the agency's forward momentum could be compromised.

These layers of governance wrangling are not just a matter of protocol; they reflect the agency's control over significant budgets and the complex political tensions brewing within the ruling party factions of the province. This has led to internal pressure on Premier Panyaza Lesufi to take more decisive action against Motara, showcasing a deeper rift within the political landscape of Gauteng.

The GGDA's predicament, filled with postponed court dates, controversial board decisions, and a lack of permanent leadership, serves as a microcosm of the broader political machinations at play, where power struggles often eclipse procedural correctness and operational efficiency.

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