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NC economic development agency boss resigns

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Thobela Dikeni says his resignation has nothing to do with the Public Protector’s report.

THE CHIEF executive officer (CEO) of the Northern Cape Economic Development Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (Nceda), Thobela Dikeni, has tendered his resignation after serving in this position for the past three years. 

He indicated that his resignation had nothing to do with the Public Protector’s report that found that he had appointed the human resources manager in an irregular manner in 2012. 

The complaint was lodged anonymously on April 1, 2014, where it was alleged that while Teboho Luse was appointed as the human resources manager, he was not the preferred candidate of the selection panel.

It was reported that his qualifications and experience were not comparable to the other two shortlisted candidates. 

At the time, Luse was working for a consultancy company, Daltim Consultancy, as an assistant project manager, that was appointed by the Nceda to manage its recruitment processes to fill vacant management positions.

Public Protector Busiswe Mkhwebane ordered the Nceda board to institute proceedings to review the appointment and advised the MEC for the Department of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, Maruping Lekwene, to take appropriate steps against Dikeni for the irregular appointment.

She stated that in response to the complaint, Dikeni explained that the appointment was not put on the agenda of the Nceda board for a decision, as the selection panel had made recommendations to him, as the chairperson of Nceda at the time, for approval, in the absence of a CEO. 

Dikeni indicated that as he was the chairperson of the board at the time, he was merely responsible for signing the letter of appointment, upon recommendation of the selection panel.

“I did not know Luse from a bar of soap. The name was presented to me by officials from the department and board members who were part of the selection committee. I was not part of the selection panel and was not aware that Luse was employed with the consultancy company contracted by Nceda. I was only the accounting officer.” 

He added that he had tendered his resignation on March 31.

“I have nothing to hide because I never did anything wrong. I offered my full co-operation during the Public Protector’s investigation and gave the report to the acting CEO, Hendrik Louw, as well as the MEC for the Department of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism.”

Dikeni said that his future plans included expanding his role in global business 

“I have travelled extensively in Africa, Europe, South America, India and Asia and have extensive business experience. I was the regional director of First National Bank in the Free State before I was headhunted by the former MEC for the Department of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, Mac Jack, to fill the position of chairperson and later as CEO of Nceda since 2017. During my tenure, I created the Nceda brand and logo. I initiated many projects, forged partnerships and benchmarked the Province and opened doors to individuals and small, micro and medium enterprises who needed to access funding.”

He added that he had secured permanent employment for 54 staff members at Nceda.  

“I am the only CEO to finish my complete term of office. The institution has become a place in the Province that people aspired to work for. I aimed to inspire people and make them think out of the box. It is unfortunate that there was a lack of support.”