Another victory for Mpumalanga parastatal’s directors

2011-06-20 12:51

Eight directors of a Mpumalanga parastatal have scored another victory after the North Gauteng High Court turned down the provincial government’s application for leave to appeal the court’s decision to reinstate them.

The court dismissed Mpumalanga Department of Economic Development Environment and Tourism MEC Norman Mokoena’s application with costs this morning.

Mokoena dissolved the Mpumalanga Economic Growth Agency board of directors on May 19 for underperformance.

The board members – except board chairperson Rachel Kalidass – went to court and applied for Mokoena’s decision to be set aside.

The court ruled in their favour on June 8 after finding that Mokoena had failed to give reasons that showed that the board members failed in their fiduciary duties.

Kalidass resigned an hour before the board was dissolved – an action which created the impression that she had been advised to do so in order to be re-appointed. She said she supported Mokoena’s decision.

The court also found that Mokoena did not give the directors a chance to state their case.

The directors’ lawyer Denis Moeletsi said after the hearing that the costs that Mokoena’s department had to pay had not been quantified. The department would have to pay the costs of a junior and senior advocate as well as Moeletsi’s costs.

“The department argued that they would like to appeal, but the court agreed with us that no other court could reach a different conclusion that my clients were dismissed without any facts placed on the table,” Moeletsi said.

Department spokesperson Mohau Ramodibe said he had not heard about the high court’s decision and would need to consult the department’s legal unit before he could comment.

City Press reported two weeks ago that Mokoena’s dissolution of the board emanated from its reluctance to accept his and Premier David Mabuza’s instructions to hire an ally of Arts and Culture minister Paul Mashatile – Sibusiso Buthelezi – as the agency’s chief executive.

Buthelezi came third after the interviews.

Buthelezi is a former Gauteng head of public works and roads who left the department after a damning forensic audit report found that he exposed the department to financial risk.

The scramble to control the agency has intensified as it will drive the province’s three multi-million rand projects: the construction of Mpumalanga’s first university, academic hospital and International Convention Centre.

The parastatal also has money-spinning assets and runs lucrative projects.

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