Johannesburg - Corporate governance guru Mervyn King has
added weight to those who believe the SA Post Office (Sapo) is in breach of
corporate governance rules in appointing one person to hold two of the most
senior executive posts simultaneously.
Acting chief financial officer (CFO) Nick Buick was last
week also appointed to act as the chief executive.
Buick - who was Sapo’s permanent CFO for 10 years - has been
acting in the position since last November when his contract was not renewed.
Buick’s appointment as the acting chief executive comes at a
time when Sapo is trying desperately to prevent a leadership crisis.
King, who drafted the South African corporate governance
bible known as the King Codes, said the positions are not supposed to be held
by one person.
"The jobs...are different. They each perform a different
function. The CFO should report to the chief executive and the latter should
have oversight of the work done by the CFO," said King.
"Consequently, the two positions should not be held by the
same person," he said.
The incumbent chief executive, Motshoanetsi Lefoka, was
placed on leave of absence as she faces a disciplinary hearing relating to a
R425m-lease contract awarded to commercial property developing firm M&T
without proper tender regulations being followed.
Sapo has terminated its relationship with the chief
operating officer, John Wentzel, who was also facing a disciplinary hearing
over the lease scandal. Wentzel officially leaves Sapo tomorrow.
Ansie Ramalho, the chief executive of the Institute of
Directors differed from King, saying it was within reason to appoint one person
to act in both positions.
Ramalho said: "The issue from a governance perspective is,
of course, not that the CFO is acting as chief executive but rather that one
person is in an acting position in both capacities, both are key.
"As a very short-term interim measure it may be acceptable,
but anything beyond that is to the detriment of the entity.
"Persons in acting positions are just maintaining the status
quo and they do not drive the entity forward as they normally do not have the
The chairperson of Parliament's communications portfolio
committee Sikhumbuzo Kholwane said it would have been preferable for both
positions to be held by different individuals.
"It depends on the situation but if the CFO acts as chief
executive, you might appoint another person to be the CFO. This is something
that the board has to analyse and decide on," said Kholwane.
South African Postal Workers' Union spokesperson Tutu
Mokoena backed the decision, saying: "For the purpose of stability while we
wait for Lefoka's disciplinary hearing to be concluded, we support Buick's
"Our understanding is that he is just stabilising the Post
Office and does not have the authority that would be enjoyed by a permanent
chief executive or CFO," he said.
Sapo board chairperson Vuyo Mahlati said: "The current
situation is being addressed. The board has finalised recruitment and
recommended candidates for the position of chief financial officer to the
shareholder. This process is being finalised and an incumbent is expected to
- City Press