‘Bullying’ sends minister before public service commission
Chief director of communications at rural development department accuses her bosses of victimisation
A senior manager in the department of rural development has been sitting idly at work for the last four months while fighting to keep her position.
Chief director of communications Linda Page reported minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and acting director-general Rendani Sadiki to the Public Service Commission (PSC) in November over a decision to transfer her from her position “without consent”.
A month before, she had reported Sadiki to the PSC for alleged harassment, victimisation and bullying.
Nkoana-Mashabane and Sadiki will now have to explain themselves to the commission.
Page was managing the department’s communications services, media relations, communications plans, departmental events, develop leaflets and department branding.
With the new position as chief director for provincial shared services, she will be expected to co-ordinate reports from all nine regional offices, prepare regional presentations for top management meetings and co-ordinate the department’s inter-ministerial committee on land reform.
Sadiki confirmed Page was currently unable to carry out any duties while the PSC case was pending.
Page’s chief director of communications job requires a degree in communications. She also has an honours degree in media studies.
The job she is being transferred to requires a degree in either public administration or management, agriculture, economics, business or law.
Page didn’t take her removal from her post lying down, and in November she reported the minister to the PSC.
In her complaint against Sadiki, she alleged the woman sent degrading and threatening e-mails, on which her subordinates were copied.
“The tone of the communication is in my view intended to bully, intimidate and humiliate me,” Page wrote.
She further alleged Sadiki shouted at her in front of junior staff and repeatedly threatened her with disciplinary action, and that she would lose her job.
“I was always accused of not performing my duties. Making humiliating remarks about me in front of other managers.”
She also accused Sadiki of setting her up for failure by giving her “unreasonable timeframes to complete a task”.
PSC spokesperson Humphrey Ramafoko confirmed they were investigating the two complaints.
“One grievance related to harassment by her supervisor [Sadiki], whilst the other one is related to unfair transfer from her post of chief director communications to chief director provincial shared services centre co-ordination.”
Asked when they foresaw the conclusion of the investigation, Ramafoko said the PSC was still to interview Nkoana-Mashabane. Sadiki has already been interviewed.
Responding on behalf of Nkoana-Mashabane, Sadiki said the minister had the authority to place a senior official where she deemed appropriate.
In a letter dated October 5 2018 and seen by Times Select, Nkoana-Mashabane told Page that in terms of the Public Service Act, a minister may transfer an employee within the department.
In the letter, Nkoana-Mashabane added she had consulted Sadiki and had approved Page’s removal from the post.
“You are, therefore, requested to submit a handover report, performance midterm review assessment on or before 31 October 2018,” Nkoana-Mashabane said.
Page said she asked the minister to give a reason for her decision, as she was never consulted by Sadiki as her immediate supervisor.
“In addition, I feel I am being victimised and treated unfairly, as my skills, education qualifications and experience are specific to the field of communications,” Page said in response to Nkoana-Mashabane’s letter.
Contacted this week, Page refused to comment and referred all questions to the department.
In a second letter to the minister, though, Page wrote: “I have not been afforded an opportunity to express my views or to contest the decision. Despite my stated objection of which Sadiki, who is my immediate supervisor, is also fully aware, it has come to my attention that she has gone ahead with the transfer without my consent and while I am on sick leave following major surgery,” Page wrote.
In her letter, Page also highlighted she viewed the action by Sadiki and Nkoana-Mashabane as victimisation and bullying.
“I have been subjected to this since Sadiki took over as acting director-general,” Page wrote.