‘Redeployed’ six earn R1,7 mln sitting at home

2012-12-18 00:00

AT least six KwaZulu-Natal Agriculture Department employees have been collectively earning about R1,7 million while sitting at home for the past year.

According to sources, the six worked in the department’s external communication unit. They were displaced when MEC Meshack Radebe took over from former Agriculture MEC Lydia Johnson.

Radebe brought his own staff to the department and it is alleged he gave instructions to both the human resources department and to corporate services to redeploy the workers elsewhere.

The MEC told The Witness yesterday that it was standard procedure for space to be created for staff accompanying an MEC or other persons of authority following a new appointment.

However, he would not be drawn as to whether he had issued instructions to have staff redeployed.

Radebe, who is attending the ANC national congress in Mangaung, said he was unaware of this specific instance, but added that there had been a reshuffle in the department before his arrival and that some staff had expressed grievances. However, all these matters were being dealt with by human resources, he said.

The six were given letters telling them they had to move to the rural development unit. However, they were reportedly not happy with various aspects of their new posting, including alleged changed conditions of employment. They took up the issue with the department, and while in limbo, they sat at home.

Three of the staffers have, according to sources, made occasional visits to the department. One has allegedly gone in for about two hours a day, while three have not reported for work.

A spokesperson for the department, Jeffrey Zikhali, said the affected employees were advised in writing of the decision to redeploy them to the rural development unit on December 16, 2011. “They were informed individually on the intended redeployment,” he said.

The Witness sent a further e-mail to Zikhali on December 6, pointing out that the move appeared to exist only on paper, as the staff were not physically at work.

The Witness knows the names of the six workers, but has decided not to publish them because not all of them could be reached. The three who were contacted declined to comment. One said he was not prepared to talk to the newspapers and that processes were in train to sort out the matter.

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