The exact status of its regular director general, Maxwell Sirenya, is unclear. Reports swing between his being fired and resigning.
Earlier on Friday, sources close to the department said that he had been fired, while others said he had handed his resignation in.
Sputnik Ratau, its spokesperson, confirmed that Sirenya was not at work but had not been dismissed, “We have an acting director general at the moment because of a dispute between him [Sirenya] and the department.”
The wording of his exact status is not clear, or whether he is being paid while the dispute is resolved. Ratau said he had only been told that there was a dispute between the two parties and Sirenya was not at work while this unfolded.
“This happened on the sixth [of February] and because it is a private matter and is being dealt with internally, so we will only know more as things progress,” he said.
Sirenya’s appointment was controversial at the time after his departure from Amatola Water, where he was fired and then reinstated by the then minister of water affairs. His attempt to get the Council for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration to review his dismissal was then turned down and he left the position.
Prior to his appointment, water affairs had gone 30 months without a director general. The previous DG, Pam Yako, was found to have been involved in tender rigging and illegal awarding of contracts to the tune of R300-million by the auditor-general. She was dismissed after a disciplinary hearing in 2010.
Trevor Balzer, the current chief operations officer at the department, has stepped in as acting director until the dispute is resolved, said Ratau.