KZN Agric head suspended over ‘unhappiness among staffers’

2008-02-22 00:00

THE head of the KZN Agriculture and Environmental Affairs Department, advocate Modidima Mannya, has been suspended, six months into the top job.

Department spokesman Mbulelo Baloyi said Mannya has been suspended “pending the determination of the disciplinary proceedings” to be instituted against him.

He said this arose from “allegations of unhappiness among staffers, including senior managers, as a result of the management style of the head of department”.

The Witness understands that in his first month in office, Mannya was slapped with a number of charges, including the victimisation of staff, harassment and humiliation of senior managers in front of their subordinates.

However, some sources close to the department claim that the charges were part of a crusade to get rid of Mannya in a bid to prevent him from uncovering more corruption at the department.

His suspension comes as the department is due to appear before the provincial legislature’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa).

When contacted by The Witness yesterday, Mannya confirmed his suspension, but said the reasons were not stated in the letter he received yesterday afternoon.

He declined to say whether he will challenge the decision.

Mannya was appointed on August 1 last year to spearhead a turnaround strategy at the corruption-riddled department.

His appointment followed the resignation of Dr Jabulani Mjwara who — together with the former chief financial officer Petrus Mahlangu — was fingered in an audit report investigation into mismanagement and overspending of more than R100 million.

The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) said it welcomes the news of Mannya’s suspension, adding that he “failed” to carry out the turnaround strategy at the department.

“Advocate Mannya has not only been a poor communicator and a bad manager, but also a drain on the taxpayers’ money, milking the department for whatever additional perks he could lay his hands on,” said IFP leader in the legislature Lionel Mtshali.

Last year, the IFP was critical of the department’s decision to purchase a 4x4 vehicle for Mannya.

“Let us not forget that the new HOD in tandem with the new MEC took over Agriculture last year with a fresh mandate to turn things around. Clearly this has not happened. We would like to see the MEC take his share of responsibility and follow advocate Mannya’s footsteps soon,” Mtshali said.

He concluded: “The IFP hopes the ruling party will be ‘third time lucky’ in its choice of Advocate Mannya’s replacement”.

African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) MPL Jo-Anne Downs also said she is not surprised by the suspensions. “I knew about it a long time ago, there are huge problems at that [Agriculture] department,” said Downs.

Baloyi said the appointment of an acting head of department “will be announced once consultation has been made with Premier Ndebele on his return from his official engagement in the United States of America … ”.

bmbanjwa@witness.co.za

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