Panic at public works

2012-04-07 16:34

Minister of Public Works Thulas Nxesi has demanded that all 9 000 of the department’s employees submit their CVs for a “skills audit”.

The minister’s request has unsettled many in the department, which has in the past two years seen four senior officials suspended.

That number is about to climb to five: Nxesi this week asked his chief financial officer, Cathy Motsisi, either to resign or be fired after the department received a disclaimer from the Auditor-General.

Motsisi was devastated by the news, describing Nxesi’s move as a “witch-hunt”.

“I’ve been here for three years and the department’s reports have changed for the better since then,” Motsisi told City Press.

“To be blamed for all the problems of the department is extremely unfair because they know that this department has never had its house right and there are a lot of systemic issues it has been dealing with since 2004.

“This is just a pathetic ploy to blame all the problems on me.”

Motsisi said: “The decent thing the minister could have done was to tell me that he no longer had trust in me and that our relationship had broken down. I wasn’t aware that our relationship had broken until he spoke to me.”

She said she would not have rejected a financial settlement if Nxesi’s approach had been “fair”. She is now seeking legal advice.

Nxesi refused to talk about the reasons behind Motsisi’s suspension, saying this was an “internal departmental issue”.

The department is at the centre of a battle over police leases that resulted in national police commissioner General Bheki Cele being suspended and hauled before a commission of inquiry into his fitness to hold office.

Other senior officials who have been suspended from the department since 2010 are:

» Siviwe Dongwana, director-general, suspended in December 2010;

» Sam Vukela, acting director-general and deputy director-general of corporate services, suspended in September 2011;

» Ricky Samuels, deputy director-general of key account management, suspended in November 2011; and

» Vusi Mashiane, national property head, suspended in January 2010.

Most of the suspensions were directly linked to the botched leases for police headquarters signed with businessman Roux Shabangu to the tune of R1.68 billion.

City Press has learned the department is targeting more officials for possible suspension, across a range of units.

“There are 9 000 employees nationwide in the department and the target is to get rid of those who are undesirable or are not in the turnaround plans of the minister,” said a well-placed source.

It is understood the National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union has written to Nxesi demanding an explanation for his decision to request all employees’ CVs.

Nxesi said: “I’m doing a skills audit and the purpose is to see if we have the right skills in the department. I’ve never ment-ioned people losing their jobs.”

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