Farming minister Senzeni Zokwana axes his director-general again

19 June 2018 - 15:19
By Bobby Jordan And Aron Hyman
Mike Mlengana.
Image: Robert Tshabalala/Financial Mail Mike Mlengana.

Agriculture‚ Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana has effectively axed the director-general in his department‚ Mike Mlengana‚ the latest salvo in a war over alleged corruption.

Mlengana has been stripped of “all delegations of authority”‚ according to an official internal memo circulated on Monday.

Mlengana confirmed the move on Tuesday‚ claiming he had been “effectively suspended”. He said: “As it stands he [Zokwana] is my boss but I am effectively suspended.”

The move follows Mlengana’s suspension of deputy director-general Siphokazi Ndudane‚ head of fisheries‚ due to a row that has spilled into the public domain.

The two have fallen out over several issues‚ most notably a controversial three-ton abalone deal worth R45-million. Both accuse each other of mismanagement and wrongdoing.

Union heavyweight Nehawu has thrown its weight behind Mlengana‚ while the Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Assocation has backed Ndudane.

Zokwana was also opposed to Ndudane’s suspension and last week ordered Mlengana to reverse the decision – which he failed to do. Zokwana's latest memo is seen as a retaliation.

The memo effectively withdraws Ndudane’s suspension and instead puts Mlengana’s future in jeopardy.

“I have advised both the Presidency and the Department of Public Service and Administration of my decision to withdraw the delegations of authority from the head of department and to review all others‚” Zokwana said in the memo.

“The precautionary suspensions that the head of department recently caused to be served on various senior officials in the department are hereby withdrawn. All staff on precautionary suspension are to return to their posts as soon as possible.”

It’s not the first time Zokwana has acted against Mlengana. The minister suspended him in July 2017 following a damning forensic report he commissioned into the abalone deal. Mlengana was reinstated after a High Court order ruled in his favour against the minister’s decision.