Another agriculture boss suspended

2012-09-22 18:59

The beleaguered department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries has suspended another top official, it was reported yesterday.

Afrikaans daily Beeld reported that chief director of communications Selby Bokaba has been suspended.

The paper reported that the ministry would not confirm the reason for his suspension.

It is believed, however, that Bokaba was suspended for speaking to the media “without permission”.

An investigation was under way.

Bokaba previously worked as spokesperson for the SA Police Service and former police commissioner Jackie Selebi.

The department’s director-general Langa Zita was suspended in June.

At the time of Zita’s suspension, Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersen announced that it was over an  “administrative issue”.

It is unclear when a new director-general will be appointed.

Meanwhile, Joemat-Pettersson this week postponed an important parliamentary briefing for the second time in three weeks.

Angry parliamentarians said they were told this week that the minister had been booked off from work for a month because of tinnitus – a ringing sound in the ear.

Joemat-Pettersson will be bracing herself for a grilling in Parliament when she recovers.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela is currently running three investigations against her.

The Public Protector’s office is investigating whether the minister violated the executive ethics code, and is also probing her spending on flights and hotels.

The third probe relates to alleged irregularities in the controversial R800-million Sekunjalo tender to man and maintain state-owned marine patrol vessels.

Palesa Mokomele, the minister’s spokesperson, said Joemat-Pettersson was only booked off for two weeks because of acute bronchitis.

“She never rests, she hasn’t taken one single day off. And this has finally taken its toll and hence she got ill,” she said.

Mokomele said the minister had an ear infection, but that it was the bronchitis that had seen her booked off sick.

The Madonsela reports will be worrying more people than just Joemat-Pettersson.

The minister is a key ally of President Jacob Zuma, and if the reports are released too close to the ANC’s Mangaung elective conference in December, any adverse findings could hurt Zuma’s re-election campaign.

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