Minister terminates interim board

Suspended Amatola Water CEO throws in the towel

Suspended Amatola Water CEO Vuyo Zitumane
Suspended Amatola Water CEO Vuyo Zitumane
Image: FILE

Suspended Amatola Water CEO Vuyo Zitumane has resigned after allegations of nepotism emerged following months of squabbling among interim board members.

On Tuesday, human settlements, water & sanitation minister Lindiwe Sisulu terminated Amatola Water’s interim board with immediate effect.

DispatchLIVE has seen Zitumane’s resignation, dated November 13, which cites a draft forensic report by Open Water, which made damning findings against her.

“It is with a mixture of gratitude and regret that I have to resign from my position as chief executive,” Zitumane wrote.

She said she was resigning because of the leaked forensic investigation — also seen by DispatchLIVE — which makes findings of nepotism against her.

She said even if she had prevailed against the board, the working environment had become “too toxic, hence I proposed a reasonable separation, which would have saved Amatola Water fruitless and wasteful expenditure”.

The Open Water report makes shocking findings against other senior government officials and businessmen and women.

Zitumane, however, called  the report “legally and factually incorrect”.

It said Zitumane had been a director and/or member in 31 companies in the past and currently was an active director in 16 companies. She had held 225 co-directorships. Some of these associates had done business with Amatola Water while she was CEO.

Titled “Conflict of Interest and Nepotism”, the report found that a business person who was allegedly in a relationship with Zitumane’s daughter did business with Amatola Water, also while Zitumane was CEO.

In her resignation letter, Zitumane questioned the report’s “motive and outcome”, and said she was denied the right of reply and had endured “relentless public humiliation” in the last six months.

She wrote: “This is by no means to avoid the upcoming disciplinary process as I have availed myself in the first hearing in August and the second one in September, both of which were postponed due to the collapse and non-submission of relevant information by the employer.”

Approached by DispatchLIVE for comment, Zitumane said: “The person who gave you the letter is better placed to respond to you. Thanks.”

Amatola Water spokesperson Nosisa Sogayise had not responded at the time of writing.

Samwu  Amathole regional secretary Luthando Juju called Zitumane’s resignation “long overdue”.

Juju said: “For the past seven months the institution has been led by acting CEOs who were mostly not knowledgeable about the water sector and some lacked exposure to municipality work experience and subsequently failed to steer the ship in the right direction.

“It has been a very challenging situation for us to deal with CEOs that don’t even understand collective agreements, organisational rights agreements and, above all, legislation that governs industrial relations in the workplace,” Juju said.

The union was disappointed with the way the board had dealt with senior officials.

“We pray that the board will be swift in filling the vacated position of the CEO,” Juju said.

Nominations for the new board were advertised in March. In a letter titled “Termination of the Interim Board of Amatola Water”, addressed to the board and interim chair Mzi Malotana, Sisulu said a panel, established on Monday, would interview candidates from Wednesday to Sunday.

The process will include a representative from the premier’s office.

Amatola Water administrator Maxwell Sirenya will continue in the same role.

Sisulu wrote: “I wish to take this opportunity to thank the board for keeping Amatola Water functional during the difficult time of the Covid-19 pandemic and as we reach this period, the term of office of the board is terminated with effect from the date of this letter.”

DispatchLIVE


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