Discussions were ongoing between the ministry of higher education and its head of communications, Ranjeni Munusamy, who is reportedly leaving the department after her contract was prematurely terminated.
“We are in discussions with Ranjeni on how she likes to see herself playing a role.
The discussions are not concluded and we have to respect that,” said Gwebs Qonde, adviser to higher education minister Blade Nzimande, refusing to comment further on Munusamy’s apparent departure.
Brushing off reports that there was a climate of uncertainly within the department, with tensions between Nzimande and his senior staff, Qonde said: “Operations are running smooth and staff are in high spirits.”
Munusamy, who was not present at Unisa where a round-table discussion on African languages was under way, refused to give details about the matter except to say: “I can confirm that my contract of employment is under discussion.”
According to the Mail & Guardian, Munusamy’s departure was linked to escalating tensions between her and Nzimande.
The newspaper attributed the tension to Nzimande’s interpretation of Munusamy’s opposition to a Media Appeals Tribunal, which Nzimande has been advocating.
The news comes just days after director-general Mary Metcalfe’s departure.
On Monday, Qonde issued a joint statement by Nzimande and Metcalfe, saying the two had agreed she would leave before the end of April 2011.
On Sunday, City Press reported that Metcalfe was set to quit “following a nasty fallout” with Nzimande.
Nzimande and Metcalfe’s relationship of more than 20 years had broken down barely a year into the newly formed department.
According to the report, Nzimande had informed Metcalfe he no longer trusted her and that she should leave.
They dismissed the report as pure media speculation.