The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has confirmed the appointment of four management members to fill up temporarily three executive positions left vacant early last week following to the suspension of three top officials.
The three suspended senior managers consisted of Chief Operating Officer (COO) and former Acting Chief Executive, Mr Sobantu Tilayi; Chief Human Capital Officer (CHCO), Ms Lesego Mashishi and Company Secretary, Mr Moyahabo Raphadu. The three top managers were suspended on full pay effective on Monday, 26 April 2021.
In Pretoria at the weekend, SAMSA Acting CEO Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane announced the names of Mr Vusi September, current Head of Corporate Affairs, Government, and International Relations as acting Chief Human Capital Officer. Ms Shelorne Muller, currently the assistant Company Secretary will take over temporarily as Company Secretary.
The position of COO meanwhile will be managed consecutively by Captain Vernon Keller, currently the Deputy COO, and Mr Ian Calvert, current Executive Manager: Marine Special Projects. The shared responsibility for the COO post sees Capt. Keller taking over with effect from 01 May to 30 June 2021 and thereafter passing the baton to Mr Calvert through to end of August 2021.
The four managers will remain in the positions for the duration of the suspension of the three executives.
In announcing the action taken against the three executives on Monday last week, the SAMSA Board said the suspensions were precautionary and that the decision to suspend them was based on “whistle-blowing and reports of alleged misconduct received from external and internal stakeholders.”
The Board’s action came barely two months after the secondment of a senior Department of Transport official, Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane as SAMSA’s new acting Chief Executive Officer, replacing Mr Tilayi who had been in that acting position since 2016.
Her appointment in turn had followed a few months after the appointment of a new Board at SAMSA by Department of Transport Minister, Mr Fikile Mbalula in the second half of 2020.
Leading the SAMSA Board is Ms Nthato Minyuku.
In its statement announcing the three top managers’ suspension on Tuesday a week ago, the Board said: “A through forensic investigation will be undertaken on the range of serious allegations related to the three (3) executives. The precautionary suspensions will provide an opportunity for the Board to undertake an independent forensic investigation.
“These suspensions are necessary to ensure that the Board investigations are efficient and free of any potential interference in order to be completed within a reasonable time frame.
“The Board will be guided by the findings and recommendations of the forensic investigation on which appropriate steps will be taken with the 3 executives.
“In the interim, the Board has mandated the SAMSA Acting Chief Executive Officer to appoint suitable officials to act in all three (3) positions for the duration of precautionary suspensions in order to ensure business continuity,’ said the Board in a statement.
The South African Maritime Safety (SAMSA) has announced the secondment of Department of Transport director, Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane, as acting Chief Executive Officer of the agency, with immediate effect.
SAMSA said Ms Taoana-Mashiloane would be replacing Mr Sobantu Tilayi, SAMSA’s Chief Operations Officer, who had acted in the position since 2016.
“Her secondment to lead SAMSA is a transitional arrangement pending the finalisation of the recruitment and appointment process of a permanent CEO,” said SAMSA in the statement in Pretoria on Friday.
The secondment – to be followed soon by a formal appointment of a permanent CEO – according to SAMSA’s Board of Directors, is part of a broader renewed effort currently to stabilise the agency, as well as strenghten its strategic role in the redevelopment and expansion of South Africa maritime economic sector as envisaged in its legislated mandate.
The statement described Ms Taoano-Mashiloane as the Department of Transport’s director for Maritime Industry Development and therefore a long serving and experienced civil servant with broad familiarity with the operations of SAMSA
Her academic qualifications include a Masters of Science degree in Botany & Environmental Management) and an MA in Maritime Safety & Environmental Administration.
“Ms Taoana-Mashiloane is also no stranger to SAMSA as, relative to her position at the Department of Transport, she is well acquainted with SAMSA having worked closely with its management for many years on key programmes; among these the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) periodic audits, the World Maritime Day parallel events – the next scheduled for South Africa this current year – the SA national Inland Water Strategy and the National Ports Consultative Committee.”
The announcement on Friday comes a couple of days after SAMSA held its annual “pre-State of the Nation Address (SONA)” Stakeholders Event staged virtually online on Wednesday evening, involving a number of key maritime sector stakeholders from across the country.
Among these were Mr Andrew Pike, head of Ports, Transport and Logistics at Bowmans, Ms Joey Mulaudzi, CEO of Ports Regulator South Africa, Mr Andrew Millard, director at Vuka Marine, Mr Ross Volk, MD of MSC Cruises SA, Mr Peter Besnard, CEO of SAASOA, Ms Sefale Montsi, Chairperson of AMD, Mr Mthozami Xiphu, Board Chairperson at SAOGA, Mr Odwa Mtati, CEO of SAIMI, Mr Loyiso Phantshwa, Chairman at Fish SA, Mr Kevin Watson, President of SAIMENA, Mr Paul Maclons, CEO of AMSOL, Mr Mthunzi Madiya, and Ms Taoana-Mshiloane on behalf of the Department of Transport.
In her address, SAMSA Board of Directors chairperson Ms Nthato Minyuku described the issue of SAMSA management leadership as among critical issues requiring attention as a matter of priority needed to ensure stability in the agency.
She said: “You would have seen that we are in the market looking for a permanent CEO for SAMSA. This is the first item we have to deliver on. Five years is a long time without a permanent CEO. I would wish to thank the EXCO team that has held SAMSA steady during this period.”
The second aspect to stabilising SAMSA related to its financial position. According to Ms Minyuku, various operational issues now compounded by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in December 2019, had hugely impacted negatively SAMSA’s finances. She said SAMSA was not about to go to the Treasury with a begging bowl, but the situation needed arresting. Part of this was a proposed five (5) per cent tarrif increase over and above that granted during the last financial year.
“In terms of SAMSA resources, we have been hit hard by the COVID pandemic. At some stage, we were contemplating what we have come to refer to as “cash flow day zero”. Although we have successfully evaded this day, we are by no means clear, much less financially sustainable.
“We are fortunate never having had to go to National Treasury to ask for a “bail out” and I must commend EXCO for this achievement. However, in order to keep sustainable, we have had to request an additional 5% tariff increase to the 6% that was already approved by the Minister with the concurrence of Treasury,” said Ms Minyuku.
Regarding the external environment, she said it was SAMSA’s view that the agency’s strategy was fit for purpose. “It is our view that first and foremost, SAMSA must discharge its regulatory obligations and build capacity to sustain our abilities in this regard. We have adopted a model of delivering on our objective of “promoting the republic’s maritime interests” via partnerships.
“These are partnerships that have seen us create hundreds of jobs for rural youths. These are the partnerships that have seen us starting what will be a long and steady growth of our ship register. We continue along this trajectory, to ensure that we use the synergies that exist between you, the industry and us, the government; as well as the various abilities and instruments among the government players.”
On her reflections broadly onto the country and global maritime sector, Ms Minyuku said South Africa was still relatively well positioned geographically to continue to play a meaningful role in the sector, but that the country needed to step up its effort to both cement its strategic role as well as ensure broader society beneficiation.
She pointed to the coming into effect last month of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area agreement and the vast business opportunities it presents to South Africa particularly from a shipping transport perspective.
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement is poised as likely to …”create the largest free trade area in the world measured by the number of countries participating,’ says the World Bank.
Further, it says: “The pact connects 1.3 billion people across 55 countries with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) valued at US$3.4 trillion. It has the potential to lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty, but achieving its full potential will depend on putting in place significant policy reforms and trade facilitation measures.”
In this regard, Ms Minyuku, South Africa needed to up its maritime sector development efforts towards especially establishment of, among things, a locally registered and South Africa flag carring fleet of vessels.
Ms Minyuku further applauded South Africa’s endorsement of an International Maritime Organisation (IMO) resolution that declares seafarers as essential workers.
For her full remarks on these and related issues, Click on the video above.
More coverage of the SAMSA Stakeholders Event, inclusive of contributions by industry players, will follow.