The Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services (DTPS) has lost its third Deputy Director General (DDG) in five months. DDG for Administration Sam Vilakazi resigned this week.

Earlier this month the DDG for ICT Policy and Strategy, Themba Phiri, was fired after he was persuaded by DTPS Minister Dr Siyabonga Cwele to withdraw his resignation in May this year.

Gift Buthelezi was fired as DDG for International Affairs in March this year when Director General Rosey Sekese sent him the news via SMS.

These three DDGs have been subjected to internal disciplinary hearings regarding the controversial awarding of a R756-million tender, which is being investigated by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU). It is unclear whether these firings and resignations stem from these investigations.

The DDG of ICT Information Society Development and Research, Reneva Fourie, resigned last year and has not yet been replaced

Marian Shinn, shadow minister of telecommunications and postal services, says this leaves only two of DTPS’s six departments with a DDG in charge. These are DDG for State Owned Companies Oversight, Sibongile Makopi, who has many years in service for the department, and DDG Infrastructure Support Tinyaiko Ngobeni, who joined last year.

“When the Director General appears before the Portfolio Committee next week to present the DTPS’ first quarter review performance, I will ask her to explain the reasons behind these upheavals and steps being taken to plug the drain of experienced people,” Shinn says.

Chief Director of e-applications, Kedibione Maluleka, was also fired earlier this year; and this week, Sekese sent warning letters for poor performance to 80% of senior management service level employees.

here are also disciplinary hearings being held against eight senior managers and two junior officials on the tender issue, seven of whom are also included in the SIU investigation.

“These major upheavals and the loss of telecommunications knowledge are having a detrimental impact on the department’s critical programmes needed for the key South Africa Connect programme to roll out broadband infrastructure throughout the country, as well as to lower the cost to communicate and policy development of issues such as local loop unbundling and open network access,” Shinn says.