Xingwana-DG battle of wills

2012-06-02 18:57

Mkhize accuses minister of micromanaging and humiliating her

The director-general of the department of women, children and people with disabilities, Nonhlanhla Mkhize, has accused her minister, Lulu Xingwana, of interfering in her work and publicly humiliating her.

Things have got so bad that Mkhize filed a grievance against Xingwana with the Public Service Commission in January, accusing the minister and her special adviser, David Dlali, of “micromanaging departmental matters to the extent that it is rendering me and the position that I occupy redundant”.

In the grievance letter, which City Press has seen, Mkhize says Xingwana “mistrusts” her ability to run the department.

She accuses Xingwana of:
» Calling meetings with the department’s chief financial officer to discuss finances without informing her, and giving instructions on operational matters;

» Together with Dlali, instructing human resources staff to transfer staff to her department in her absence and “just inform me about it after the fact”; and

» Interrupting her meetings to give her briefings, forcing her to cancel those meetings.

The letter also cites other examples of Mkhize’s “humiliation” by the minister, such as when she allegedly forced her to cancel a trip to New York in October last year “on the day that I was scheduled to depart”.

Mkhize also alleges Xingwana “sidelined and humiliated” her at the Disabled People’s International World Assembly in KwaZulu-Natal late last year, “where she shouted at me in front of several officials (and said) that I was trying to sabotage her”.

“It is obvious that the minister is set on making life as difficult as possible for me. I respectfully state that I will not allow my rights to be trampled on. It is clear that the minister is seeking a reason to deal with me,” the letter reads.

In October last year, Mkhize wrote to the late public service and administration minister Roy Padayachie requesting a transfer.

But Xingwana on Friday said that there was no breakdown in their working relationship and that her special adviser had not interfered in Mkhize’s work.

Xingwana dismissed claims that she did not like Mkhize because she inherited her. Mkhize became director-general just before previous minister Noluthando Mayende-Sibiya was moved in the Cabinet reshuffle.

“I came here and went out of my way to accept this DG,” Xingwana said. She said had she disliked Mkhize, she would have acted against her when media reports surfaced that Mkhize and her personal assistant stayed in a hotel for eight months, or when departmental employees raised “serious allegations” against her.

“Why didn’t I act if I didn’t like the DG? I am shocked and dismayed that today I don’t want the DG in this department,” Xingwana said.
She said all the allegations levelled against her were untrue.

Although she admitted ordering that eight of her ministerial staff be hired permanently by the department, Xingwana said this was in line with the ministerial handbook.

Usually the contracts of ministerial staff are linked to the term of office of their political principal.

“All I have said is to ask the (director-general) to account to the Auditor-General and to account to Parliament. All I know is that I insist on accountability,” she said.

An anonymous letter addressed to Xingwana, which accuses Mkhize of “nepotism” and “favouritism” in the appointment of some officials, was recently posted on the walls in the corridors and toilets of the department.

Xingwana has since roped in a firm of external attorneys to investigate the allegations, which she wants cleared “as soon as possible”.

Mkhize could not be reached for comment. Her personal assistant, Philile Shange, said she was on sick leave. 

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