Ndebele sues Mannya

2009-08-01 00:00

MODIDIMA Mannya, suspended head of KZN Agriculture, seems to have a penchant for creating controversy wherever he goes.

He is being sued by Transport Minister and former KZN premier S’bu Ndebele for what he calls “blatantly false” and “defamatory” statements made in an open letter.

The letter, made public this week, makes a number of allegations against Ndebele over the Dubai development at Macambini on the KZN north coast, including the claim that the tract of prime coastal land was sold to the overseas developers for one U.S. dollar.

Certain media houses are included in the legal action for “unethical reporting” on the matter.

Meanwhile, questions are being raised about why Mannya — who according to a press statement from Ndebele’s office left the Eastern Cape under a cloud of controversy — was appointed head of the troubled KZN Agriculture Department in August 2007. The appointment was made when the department was reeling from the discovery of over R100 million in unaccounted expenditure under former head Jabulani Mjwara.

Agriculture MEC at the time, Mtholephi Mthimkhulu, said of him then: “Mannya, a renowned public service corruption-buster of note, hails from Gauteng and has got many years of experience in public service administration at senior level.”

He added that during 2001, Mannya headed the Eastern Cape Education Department as superintendent-general. He also presided over many public and private sector labour disputes, Mthimkhulu said.

A trawl through the Internet turned up Daily Despatch columnist Eric Naki singing Mannya’s praises shortly before his appointment, saying he is a “man of action” who had already suspended at least four senior officials for failing to do their jobs.

However, by February 2001 Eastern Cape media reports were quoting the then premier, Makhenkesi Stofile, as saying possible criminal charges were being investigated against Mannya.

Stofile said the Education head had failed to perform some of his managerial duties and the government was instituting legal proceedings.

Reports followed of Mannya suing Stofile for R1,5 million for defamation, saying he was accused of being incompetent.

Then Mannya suddenly left the province early last year.

An out-of-court settlement was reached, and the Eastern Cape government did not reveal the sum of money paid out to Mannya.

In KZN, the suspended Agriculture Department head is facing dismissal after being found guilty of 16 out of 27 charges in a disciplinary hearing.

But he is not going down without a fight, and is contesting his dismissal in court.

He filed an urgent application in the high court for an interdict to prevent Premier Zweli Mkhize from implementing the dismissal. He has asked that the judgment in his disciplinary hearing be either reviewed or set aside.

The matter was adjourned to August 21, giving the other parties involved time to file opposing papers.

Ndebele believes Mannya’s open letter is misdirected.

He said in a statement that the suspended official failed to distinguish between the Office of the Premier and the person holding office at the time.

Therefore, as a matter of good governance, he could not become involved in a public debate on the matter.

On the subject matter in the open letter, the Transport minister said: “Mr Mannya is creating adverse testimony against himself rather than raising constructive criticism against the government of office bearers.”

As for the controversial development in Macimbini, Ndebele noted that the project is being pursued by the government of KwaZulu-Natal, of which he no longer is a part.

“Had the allegations been true, this development would have been abandoned,” he said.

Mr Mannya is creating adverse testimony against himself rather than raising constructive criticism against the government of office bearers.”

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