SA Tourism employees level bullying allegations against acting CEO

Published Dec 19, 2023


The South African Tourism (SAT) employees are pleading for intervention and investigation of the entity's acting CEO Nombulelo Guliwe.

Guliwe was appointed in September in an acting position and is also the chief financial officer of SAT. She was appointed following the withdrawal of acting CEO Nomasonto Ndlovu after a whistle-blower called the SA Tourism hotline to report that Ndlovu had allegedly accepted a R100 000 bribe from Qatar Airlines for flights in business class, accommodation and World Cup tickets.

In a letter sent to journalists, employees say they are not happy.

“Our concerns have been disregarded and, as a result, many of us good and talented employees work in fear due to the executive’s behaviour especially Guliwe, who is the acting CEO.

“The parliamentary committee is aware but says nothing. The Minister (Patricia de Lille) is protecting her and condoning her behaviour. We are not sour or corrupt at all. There is just no reason for a CFO to be Acting CEO. Worse her contract is interim,” the letter reads.

The employees say the working environment is unbearable, and they cannot report it to the union because union leaders are Guliwe’s friends.

“SAT used to be one of the best places to work, and it’s unfortunate that most of us want to leave due to continuing bullying and victimisation. The entity is now collapsing.

“Guliwe has made the environment more uncomfortable. Her behaviour is very immature and disrespectful towards staff. No guidance is provided at all. She has a group of friends who seem to be running the place and getting away with abuse as well.

“She was a good CFO but on her return, she seems to be out for revenge against whoever led her to leave, and as junior staff, we don’t know what the issues are. Important submissions are not signed for reasons that make no business sense. Her insults are very personal, and she pretends to be ethical and caring when she is not. She has no leadership or people skills, and the board is oblivious,“ it said.

The employees say they will eventually revolt or lodge grievances because her treatment of them is becoming excessive.

“The entire executive team needed to be replaced so that SAT could start over. People work so hard, and it seems fruitless. Many of them have stress and fatigue. Issues are being sent to journalists. We have no other avenue because we are not protected. We are pleading for intervention and investigation into her reasons for leaving. Something is very sinister at this entity.”

In another letter written to De Lille, the employees said the interim CFO had been the worst decision the board took.

“Work is still not progressing as she only attends to documents submitted by her “friends”. She’s emotionally immature and does not take rational decisions.There is a difference between good governance and compliance vs disagreement to show your power.

“Our executive team is immature and fight amongst each other with characters such as Guliwe creating a more toxic culture. She listens to rumours and gossip from her group of friends which shows a lack of leadership.

“We sincerely hope to see changes with this executive recruitment. Skilled intelligent people are searching for job’s daily and they are disengaged. The Senior management team works so hard with no recognition.We request that the board meets with Exco to assess their behaviour,” the letter read.

SAT chairperson Tim Harris said the board the allegations against Guliwe were baseless.

“The board is aware of the anonymous insinuations pertaining to the SA Tourism acting CEO. These baseless allegations seem to be the work of those trying to maintain the patronage networks that previously compromised SA Tourism. The CEO has the full support of the Board as she works to clean up the entity, and takes responsibility for marketing our country as a leading tourist destination.

“The board notes that, due to leadership issues, including the high vacancy rate at the top of the organisation, SA Tourism only achieved 65% of its approved targets in the financial year 2022/23. However - since the appointment of the CEO in an acting capacity - significant progress has been made so far in the 2023/24 financial year, with the entity’s performance improving to over 80% by the end of September 2023,” said Harris.