The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) has reportedly ordered public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane to pay a former special advisor at the Chapter 9 institution for the duration of her contract after she was unfairly dismissed when Mkhwebane took office.
Huffington Post reported on Friday Janine Hicks worked on contract in the private office of then public protector Advocate Thuli Madonsela until Mkhwebane was appointed.
“My contract was terminated upon the departure of Advocate Madonsela. I took the Public Protector South Africa to the CCMA, and the issue to be determined was whether my contract was unfairly terminated. The CCMA found in my favour, and I’m pleased with the outcome,” Hicks told the news website.
Hicks’ contract was apparently due to end in December, but she had not been paid for the past three months.
She was part of the quality assurance team for reports and is understood to be one of many people Mkhwebane pushed out when she took office.
According to the Huffington Post, Mkhwebane said she wanted to surround herself with her own people and she was not conducting a “witch hunt” against those viewed to have been close to her predecessor.
Bonginkosi Dhlamini, Madonsela’s previous chief-of-staff was also apparently shown the door.
He was “thrown out of the office” earlier this month and accused of being a security threat to Mkhwebane. Dhlamini was replaced by customer services manager Linda Molelekoa in an acting capacity, the report added.
Hicks said she was waiting for Mkhwebane to decide on the way forward now.
“I anticipate that the public protector will act fairly following the findings,” she said.
According to sources within the constitutionally bound institution, at least two people have indicated that the new public protector did not give anyone an opportunity to prove their worth and fight for their jobs but simply pushed people out.
“She did not give us a chance. Just because we were close to Thuli Madonsela, we were seen as enemies. She was clearly briefed on everyone before coming to the office. We understand that every team that takes over comes with changes and new people for positions, but she is doing it the wrong way.
“Even Madonsela changed her team, but she did it in a way that did not belittle anyone. She took about four months getting to understand people’s strengths before moving them around, but Mkhwebane started doing so on the first day,” said one source.