Business Maverick

Newsflash

Postbank suspends three senior executives

The bank, which is separate from the SA Post Office, has been thrown into the leadership crisis after its acting CEO Shaheen Adam, CIO Agbor Kandeh and acting CFO Zama Chonco were placed under ‘precautionary suspension’ with full pay. Business Maverick couldn’t establish the official reasons for the suspension of the trio. 

The leadership crisis at the SA Post Office has spilled over at its subsidiary, the Postbank, which has placed three senior executives under suspension. 

The Post Office confirmed to Business Maverick on Friday 21 February that the Postbank has placed acting CEO Shaheen Adam, CIO Agbor Kandeh and acting CFO Zama Chonco under “precautionary suspension” with full pay. 

In a statement, the Post Office said the trio has been suspended to “allow for an independent investigation” as they face allegations relating to a “failure to exercise due diligence.”  

Business Maverick couldn’t establish detailed reasons for the suspension of the three executives. During the investigation process, Chonco decided to resign, the Post Office said. 

The Post Office has oversight over Postbank but doesn’t control it as it has its own board. On 1 April 2019, the government decided to incorporate the Postbank as a separate state-owned entity reporting to the Post Office as a subsidiary.  Before this decision, the Postbank was a division of the Post Office.

The suspension of the trio means that there is a leadership vacuum at the Postbank at a time when it is applying for a full banking licence from the SA Reserve Bank to be a fully-fledged back that can go beyond accepting cash deposits and start lending money. 

The Post Office said the Postbank board has appointed Hannes van der Merwe, the general manager for operations and project management, as the acting CEO while the bank searches for a permanent leader. “Postbank wishes to reiterate that these suspensions are precautionary in nature and are intended to enable an independent investigation into the matters at hand,” it said. 

The suspension of Adam, Kandeh, and Chonco comes at a time when the SA Post Office faces its own leadership problems.  The Post Office acting CEO Lindiwe Kwele was placed under suspension in November 2019, after just four months into the top job. 

Kwele was placed under suspension because she faces two charges of misconduct relating to how she managed the Post Office. The two charges that Kwele faces are: “prejudicial conduct” relating to how she managed the Post Office as acting CEO and flouting the Post Office’s procurement processes. Read more here: Why Lindiwe Kwele was suspended by the SA Post Office Kwele is challenging her suspension through an arbitration process, while an internal investigation launched by the Post Office is on-going. 

The operations of the Post Office, and Postbank by extension, have always been politicised. The ANC and government have long-stated their plans to morph the Postbank into a fully licensed, state-owned bank. 

The government’s plan created tensions with the executive management of the Post Office as its CEO Mark Barnes abruptly resigned in August 2019 over a difference of opinion with the board and government about the strategic direction of Postbank. DM

 

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