Court slams tjatjarag Gauteng MEC for meddling

Gauteng MEC for economic development Tasneem Motara was smacked by the Pretoria High Court when it nullified her decision to dissolve the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency (GGDA) board for rejecting her preferred CEO.

Judge Selby Nyathi ruled Motara offside for hastily dismissing the GGDA board members in March this year after they spurned her advances to impose her preferred candidate on them.

Motara wanted the agency’s CEO appointment process, which was almost completed, abandoned because she did not want the board’s recommended candidate after hers was not even among the short-listed. But board members stood firm, saying that she stuck her nose in matters outside her purview.

As a result of the defiance, she dissolved the board, prompting its members to rush to court to seek relief.
The court has since stopped Motara in her tracks, saying she should learn to stay in her lane, which is policy formulation.

“One would further expect the political office bearer (Motara) to apply herself more productively to policy formulation and development, rather than being involved in recruitment processes,” said Judge Nyathi.

“The inescapable conclusion in this application is that the board has, unbeknownst to it, through asserting its independence and by being diligent invited the wrath of [Motara], resulting in its demise.”

The MEC’s problem began shortly after her arrival in the department last October after the provincial executive shake-up that saw then MEC Parks Tau getting the chop.
On November 10, GGDA board chair Sibongile Vilakazi met with Motara to update her about the CEO recruitment process and other matters of importance. It was at this meeting that Motara told Vilakazi that their recommended CEO candidate would never smell the job.
She wanted her own person and would forward the profile to the board chair on WhatsApp after she left the meeting.

Motara summoned GGDA acting CEO Simphiwe Hamilton, who was the recommended candidate. She told Hamilton to forget about his appointment seeing the light of day, at least while she is MEC.

Hamilton reported the discussion to the board, which took exception to the MEC’s conduct as a “violation of governance protocol”.

The board sent a letter to Motara to put her in line, asking how far she was in getting the provincial executive’s concurrence on their recommendation.

After a protracted exchange of letters between the two parties, the GGDA board proposed a meeting with the MEC to put the matter to bed.
She responded angrily, saying the request for a meeting was “an act of defiance as her instruction was simple”.

Seeing that reasoning with Motara was fruitless, the GGDA board asked the MEC to invoke the dispute resolution mechanism in the share-holder compact. She first agreed before withdrawing, citing a legal opinion.

Instead, on March 23, she asked the individual GGDA board members to state, in writing, why she should not show them the door. They were expected to do so within 24 hours.

At 6.30 am the following day, she fired all of them by dissolving the board, a decision the court labelled “hard to fathom”.

Therefore, Nyathi ruled: “The applicants must be and are hereby reinstated as directors of the second respondent (GGDA) with effect from 24 March 2023. The appointment of any directors, if any, in substitution for the applicants, to the board on or after 24 March 2023, is hereby set aside.

The court also interdicted Motara from appointing any directors to the GGDA board in substitution for the applicants.

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