Water affairs without a director general, again

Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa's department is without a director general again. (Nadine Hutton, M&G)

Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa's department is without a director general again. (Nadine Hutton, M&G)

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.

Sipho Kings

Sipho Kings

Sipho Kings is the person the Mail & Guardian sends to places when people’s environment is collapsing. This leads him from mine dumps to sewage flowing down streets – a hazardous task for his trusty pair of work shoes. Having followed his development-minded parents around Southern Africa his first port of call for reporting on the environment is people on the ground. When things go wrong – when harvests collapse and water dries up – they have limited resources to adapt, which people can never let politicians forget. For the rest of the time he tries to avoid the boggling extremes of corporations and environmental organisations, and rather looks for that fabled 'truth' thing. For Christmas he wants a global agreement where humanity accepts that sustainable development is the way forward. And maybe for all the vested interest to stop being so extreme. And world peace. And a sturdier pair of shoes. Read more from Sipho Kings


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