Parliament dispute puts newspaper boss's role in spotlight

11 June 2017 - 02:00 By BABALO NDENZE

Mystery surrounds the involvement of Independent Media chairman Iqbal Survé in a drawn-out labour dispute between two senior parliamentary officials.Zelda Holtzman, the head of protection services in parliament who was suspended two years ago, has revealed that Survé told her he had been requested by National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete to "mediate" in the matter between her and secretary to parliament Gengezi Mgidlana.Holtzman referred to Survé's intervention in a memorandum she wrote this month to Mbete and Thandi Modise, the chairwoman of the National Council of Provinces.It was not clear in what capacity Survé had been asked to mediate.Fourteen charges were brought against Holtzman in July 2015 and it was recommended that she also be charged with "management issues".A disciplinary tribunal found her guilty last year of three of the charges.Holtzman wrote: "I was called to a meeting at his [Survé's] house where this position was confirmed and to which I agreed. In fact, I welcomed this intervention by the Speaker assuming that it is her explicit intention to have the matter resolved."She said she was aware that Survé had held meetings with Mbete and Modise.Survé was not available for comment at the time of going to press. He did not respond to calls and messages.Modise confirmed having received correspondence from Holtzman but said she was "not sure how Mr Iqbal would get into a matter which is between the employer and the employee".Parliament's spokesman, Moloto Mothapo, said he was aware of mediation efforts in the dispute but did not know who was involved."I know that there were informal mediations taking place between parliament and Ms Holtzman. It was outside of the formal processes of parliament. The interventions of specific individuals I don't know, especially since these things were not in the formal process of parliament," he said.DA chief whip John Steenhuisen said Survé's involvement was a sign that a political solution was being sought as the media mogul was deeply connected in the ANC.He said the DA would ask the auditor-general to address the wasteful expenditure incurred by placing Holtzman on paid leave for two years.Despite Survé's intervention, Mgidlana recently decided to reinstitute disciplinary proceedings against Holtzman. Mgidlana was himself suspended on Friday.In her memo, Holtzman appeals to Modise and Mbete to intercede, accusing Mgidlana of applying delaying tactics.Madeleine Brandt, executive director in the Office of the Speaker, told Holtzman: "All your matters have been referred to the internal audit committee for an independent investigation."

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