KwaZulu-Natal's department of agriculture and environmental affairs will proceed with a disciplinary hearing against its head, Modidima Mannya, who has lost a second bid to block his suspension.
On Friday the Durban labour court dismissed Mannya's application for leave to appeal against a ruling that found his suspension to be lawful.
Premier S'bu Ndebele suspended Mannya last February. He claimed that Mannya's relationship with MEC Mtholephi Mthimkhulu and his staff had broken down.
Mannya took the matter to the labour court, which in May ruled in favour of the department. The department summoned him to a disciplinary hearing to face charges of misconduct over his management style, but Mannya applied for leave to appeal against the court's judgment.
The court turned down his appeal with costs on Friday. Mthimkhulu welcomed the ruling.
"Through this decision we will ensure clarity in the management of the department," Mthimkhulu said.
Ndebele appointed an outside firm of lawyers to investigate allegations against Mannya after staff complained about the way he ran his office. The lawyers compiled a list of more than 26 charges.
He now faces charges including intimidation, ill discipline, unethical behaviour, abusing his power, undermining authority and failing to promote sound labour relations.
Departmental spokesman Khulekani Ntshangase said the latest ruling would clear the way for the disciplinary process to be completed before the end of next month.
The disciplinary hearing, expected to take a week, will begin on February 2.