/ 24 July 2010

Communications director ‘released’ from contract

Communications Director 'released' From Contract

The director general of the department of communications Mamodupi Mohlala has been “released” from her contract with immediate effect.

“In the process of trying to find solutions to the challenges, it subsequently became apparent that trust between the minister [Siphiwe Nyanda] and the director general has broken down irretrievably,” said spokesperson for the communications ministry Tiyani Rikhotso in a statement on Friday afternoon.

Rikhotso said Mohlala was not released from her contract because of tender issues mentioned in the media.

He said the department recently faced a number of challenges “relating to internal processes and procedure”.

Nyanda and the deputy minister Dina Pule met the director general to resolve the issues as they threatened the day-to-day operations of the department and negatively affected its image.

In the interests of the department, the staff and the
government, the minister concluded that it would be best to release Mohlala from her position as director general from July 23, he said.

Harold Wesso was appointed the acting director general to ensure that the work of the department was not negatively affected.

The Mail and Guardian reported last week that Wesso was appointed as an acting director general for two days after a fall-out between Nyanda and Mohlala.

Nyanda last week dismissed reports that he was suspending “Mohlala” — following repeated disagreements over tenders she refused to sign — as “false, spurious and malicious”.

Nyanda reportedly issued an instruction that all tenders for the department be cancelled until they had been “discussed and approved by the minister”.

It was understood that Mohlala warned Nyanda this week that removing the administration of tenders from her would violate the Public Finances Management Act.

The saga with his director general is the latest landing Nyanda in the media spotlight.

In March freight group Transnet dismissed two senior managers for irregularly awarding a R55-million tender to a company allegedly linked to Nyanda.

‘Caviar and silk’
In a separate case, the Democratic Alliance alleged that a company partly owned by Nyanda was unlawfully awarded a R67,8-million tender by the Gauteng roads and transport department.

Earlier this year Nyanda was accused of indulging in a “caviar and silk” lifestyle after allegedly spending thousands of rands on hotel stays at the luxurious Mount Nelson and Twelve Apostles hotels and buying two R1,2-million BMWs for his work.

Congress of South African Trade Union leader Zwelinzima Vavi singled out Nyanda when criticising the government’s failure to act on allegations of corruption in Cabinet.

Vavi had said reports that Nyanda had spent half-a-million rand on hotels in Cape Town should be probed, which landed him in hot water with its ally in the ruling alliance, the ANC. – Sapa