Newsmaker: Anis Karodia – Life in the firing line

2012-06-02 15:51

Dr Anis Karodia is used to life in the firing line.

The veteran civil servant has a history of stepping on big toes, and he doesn’t plan to change.

In February, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga hauled 61-year-old Karodia out of retirement and tasked him with putting the Limpopo department of education back on track. The department was placed under administration because of poor financial controls, maladministration, and alleged fraud and corruption.

No sooner had he arrived than he locked horns with MEC Dickson Masemola and senior managers.

Karodia told the national council of provinces that Masemola appeared to have interfered with the awarding of tenders. Masemola warned Karodia to tread carefully. But Karodia is not easily cowed.

He wrote a scathing report to the council of provinces, accusing senior managers of “treating their work in a haphazard manner with no sense of purpose”.

He recommended that the department head, chief financial officer and supply chain managers be fired.

Three weeks ago, Karodia received a letter from Motshekga offering him another position in the equally troubled Eastern Cape. But he declined the offer and in effect lost his job.

Insiders believe he was pushed because of his relationship with Masemola.

“He was pushed because he was also getting to the bottom of the corruption and the rot in this department. Why would Angie want to send him to the Eastern Cape as he was doing well here? If he had finished his job here one would understand. He was good, efficient and hands-on,” says a senior manager.

It’s not the first time Karodia has clashed with his bosses.

Before retiring in 2007, he was the head of the North West department of education. Then MEC Johannes Tselapedi suspended him on allegations of dereliction of duty and wasteful expenditure.

“I was framed. I successfully challenged the suspension at the labour court, only for the former MEC himself to be arrested on charges of fraud and corruption. He is out on bail as we speak,” he said.

The nephew of struggle heroes Dr MM Motala, and Ismail and Fatima Meer, says he has courted trouble all his life. “In 1970 I was jailed as an activist and a resister of the Pietermaritzburg Agricultural Show. I’m used to having run-ins with leaders.”

Of his time in Limpopo, he says: “I found it difficult, challenging – and pleasant at times. There was complete non-cooperation from most of the senior managers and total cooperation from middle management. I’m sad to say there was no financial understanding from financial managers in charge of the budget and finances, and no oversight by the MEC.”

The biggest heartbreak is how much the children are being short-changed.

“It’s June now and the poor children don’t have books yet – all due to greed and corruption.

“All in all, these are my observations and I firmly believe that the time has come to overhaul the entire department for the purposes of consolidating our democracy and giving the black child an equal opportunity for him or her to take their rightful place in society.”

 

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