DA questions dismissal of the highly effective SANAC CEO – Wilmot James

Party says decision to not have Abdullah serve as interim CEO seems short-sighted as it leaves a dangerous leadership vacuum

The DA questions the dismissal of the highly effective SANAC CEO

6 February 2017

Today, I have written to the Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa, in his capacity as Chairperson of the South African National Aids Council (SANAC), to request that it reviews its decision to not renew the contract of the highly respected SANAC Trust CEO Dr. Fareed Abdullah.

Though Dr. Abdullah has built SANAC virtually from scratch into a highly respected and hugely effective multi-million enterprise, he has been targeted by a number of his colleagues because he refuses to let them abuse SANAC for their own private gain.

The decision to not have Dr. Abdullah serve as interim CEO until his successor starts his or her term also seems short-sighted as it leaves a dangerous leadership vacuum in a fractious institution.

According to an article published in the Daily Maverick on 3 February 2017, Dr. Abdullah is a victim of a SANAC power play that not only breaches good governance rules and procedures but threatens the viability of SANAC itself.

The Deputy President and the Council must satisfy themselves that good governance procedures were followed in appointing Dr. Abdullah’s successor.

The Article alleges that SANAC Deputy Chair, Mmapaseka Steve Letsike, who represents civil society on its board, had R 500 000 improperly and unlawfully set aside for her services to SANAC. Apparently in cahoots with her SANAC colleague Dr. Ramneek Ahluwalia, she also allegedly abuses her SANAC position to pitch for health business for private gain, using their companies Media Cliq and Kopanong, both of which they, according to the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPRO), are directors. Letsike also runs an NGO that apparently receives funds from SANAC donors.

Dr. Abdullah asked Letsike to sign a declaration of interests, but she refused. He also asked of her to hand over the financial statements of her NGO, Access Chapter Two, but she refused this as well. We wonder why.

It is noteworthy that the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), no stranger to sniffing out bad governance and corruption in the health sector, wrote a letter to the SANAC Trustees chair Dr. Gwen Ramokgopa, recently appointed to replace the beleaguered Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu for her role in the death of 94 mental patients, for urgent intervention.

The DA demands transparency regarding SANAC’s appoint process, especially in light of the deadly consequences poor appointments have had on the health sector in recent months.

Issued by Wilmot James, DA Shadow Minister of Health, 6 February 2017