Dr. Bongani Mabaso, the CEO of the State Information Technology Agency (SITA), has resigned after just eight months in the role, triggering alarm among industry experts and highlighting ongoing leadership instability within the organization.
- Mabaso’s departure has been described as a “tragic” loss of black talent leadership and continuity in driving the digital transformation of the country through government initiatives. Experts believe he was frustrated out of the job, pointing to interference by the shareholder and board of directors as a major contributing factor.
- SITA, responsible for procuring ICT services and products in South Africa, has a history of leadership challenges. Mabaso was the agency’s 22nd CEO, and previous executives have had short tenures, leaving within a few months to just over a year.
- Industry professionals warn that the continuous turnover in leadership hampers stability, accountability, and transparency within SITA. This can impede the effectiveness of the agency in spearheading digital transformation initiatives within the public sector, ultimately depriving citizens of the benefits of technology.
- The departure of Mabaso raises concerns about the agency’s ability to address inefficiencies, lack of urgency, and corruption. It is feared that without stable leadership, these issues will persist, negatively impacting clean governance and efficient service delivery.
- The impact of leadership instability extends beyond SITA itself, affecting taxpayers and citizens. Projects aimed at improving broadband infrastructure in underserviced areas may face delays, leaving people without adequate access to internet services.
- To ensure SITA’s focus on its core functions, experts suggest separating tender operations and allowing the agency to concentrate on IT operations and digital innovation in public services, while tender operations are managed by the National Treasury or government departments’ supply chain management.