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Faith Muthambi moves 'exiled' DG out of her department

23 January 2018 - 17:35 By Thabo Mokone
Faith Muthambi. File photo.
Faith Muthambi. File photo.
Image: Supplied.

Public service minister Faith Muthambi has forced the transfer of her Director-General to the department of traditional affairs following an apparent breakdown in their working relationship.

This emerged on Tuesday in an internal memorandum send to the department's staff by Muthambi's office‚ in which she informs them that Mashwahle Diphofa would be moving to traditional affairs with effect from February 1.

Diphofa has been on extended leave since October. Sources at the public services department described the leave as "imposed exile" by Muthambi after she refused Diphofa to return his work when his annual leave ended in November last year.

Diphofa took the October leave after he and Muthambi clashed over the running and financial management of the department‚ a standoff that saw the Public Service Commission and The Presidency being forced to intervene.

"You are further notified that the director-general‚ Mr Mashwahle Diphofa‚ with his consent and on the approval of the President‚ has been transferred to the department of traditional affairs.

"The transfer is with effect from 01 February 2018‚" reads the memo‚ which was leaked to TimesLIVE.

Diphofa referred queries to the department - but sources close to him said he wasn't formally informed that he had been moved.

The same memo also shows that Muthambi has suspended another senior official in the department‚ which is regarded as the custodian of proper public administration.

She's placed Collete Clark‚ the deputy director-general of policy research and analysis‚ on a precautionary suspension with immediate effect pending the conclusion of an internal investigation. It's not clear what is being investigated against Clark.

But sources indicated that Clark was accused of failure to support Muthambi's agenda and vision. They said Clark, at an executive meeting on Monday, questioned the unlawful appointment of people in the department. She was, apparently, not ask to give reasons why she should not be suspended, as per the Labour Relations Act.

"During this period of precautionary suspension and the conduct of the investigations‚ the official is not permitted to make contact with any of the department's officials‚ clients‚ stakeholders‚ without the written approval of the acting DG.

"Staff are also not permitted to make contact with the official while on precautionary suspension‚ without the written approval of the acting DG‚" says the memo.

Clark is the latest senior departmental official to be suspended by Muthambi after she suspended others in October last year‚ including CFO Masilo Makhura after they objected to her "exorbitant spending" of publicity-seeking events such as Izimbizo.

"What is happening is that she's suspending long serving on trumped up charges so that she can put her own preferred people in charge‚ that's the modus operandi‚" said an official‚ who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.