JOHANNESBURG – Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale has cracked the whip saying the management of the Estate Agency Affairs Board will have to account for the “shenanigans” at the dysfunctional regulatory body.
After announcing that the EAAB would be placed under administration and that the board of directors had been dissolved, Sexwale said: “I don’t want people to be subjected to the kind of shenanigans that have been taking place. There are games that people are playing here.”
He added in no uncertain terms: “It is more than the board, it is management. We are going to have to go right into that management …to use this opportunity … to know who is doing what because boards come and go, but it is management. That is where things get stuck.”
Earlier, Sexwale said while he was aware of problems at the regulator when it was still under the executive authority of the Department of Trade and Industry (dti), he had intended to address these and other issues during a sector summit in September.
But the straw that broke the camel’s back and prompted him to act earlier was the resignation of the EAAB board chair, Ina Wilken.
On July 17, Moneyweb confirmed Wilken’s resignation roughly four days after the board had decided to remove acting CEO Bryan Chaplog and to suspend the company secretary Nkululeko Ndebele. Both have since been reinstated. At the time Wilken could not be reached for comment.
Sexwale declined to be drawn on Wilken’s stated reasons for leaving “to pursue other interests.” What he did say was that Wilken had been disappointed and uncomfortable with some of the activities around her.
Asked if Chaplog would remain on as acting CEO and when a new board would be appointed, Sexwale replied that it was up to the new administrator whom he hoped to have in place within the next 48 to 96 hours. “Several people” were under consideration for the post and he or she would have to have a good understanding of governance and the historical problems at the EAAB.
The minister said he had abandoned his previous intentions of meeting with the board when it became clear that it would be seen to being tantamount to gathering with “a sinking ship” after several board members had resigned over the past month. He added only three were left on Tuesday morning, of the original nine appointed by dti Minister Rob Davies in October 2011.
With regards to a much-publicised Deloitte report on the firing of the previous CEO Nomonde Mapetla, Sexwale said it would not be swept under the carpet. The audit firm submitted its findings of an “investigation into allegations of possible improper conduct by the CEO of the EAAB” to the organisation in August 2011.
Sexwale said reports of embezzlement, fraud and corruption would be investigated by the Special Investigating Unit in conjunction with the department’s own due diligence.
Allegations of the abuse of the EAAB’s fidelity fund would also form part of the probe.
The minister added action would be taken against anyone found to have broken the law.
Meanwhile, Seeff chairman, Samuel Seeff has welcomed Sexwale’s announcement, saying an overhaul of the EAAB is critical to the stability of the industry. “We hope that this intervention will include a turnaround strategy that would revamp the EAAB in terms of a clear mandate, leadership structure (from the chairman to the CEO, board and operational staff) and importantly, service delivery to the industry and public. This should also be communicated to the industry and public so that there is clarity on the way forward,” Seeff said.