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ARMSCOR has suspended its chief executive, Sipho Thomo, the chairperson of the board of the arms procurement agency announced yesterday.
Popo Molefe said Thomo was suspended with full pay after he and the board failed to reach an agreement to end his 10-year tenure at the head of Armscor.
"As there were serious allegations against the CEO, and no agreement could be reached to settle amicably, the board after deliberations decided to suspend the CEO with full pay and his current benefits," Molefe said.
"The suspension will continue pending an investigation of disciplinary charges, and the convening of a disciplinary hearing if there is evidence that justifies it."
Molefe said the board hoped to deal with the matter as expeditiously as possible to avoid wasting public funds.
"In this regard the board hopes for the cooperation of the CEO."
Molefe revealed last week that the board had asked Thomo to step down because it believe "he's taking all of us down".
But Thomo refused, saying: "I'm not planning to resign. I have no reason to resign."
Armscor said Sipho Mkwanazi, its general manager for acquisition, would act as chief executive until the dispute was resolved.
The DA welcomed the decision.
"Sipho Thomo's divisive management and leadership style was a disaster and caused a virtual civil war between employees at Armscor," DA spokesperson David Maynier said.
Opposition MPs have suggested that despite long-standing tension with Thomo it was his awkward disclosure that the cost of South Africa's contract to buy eight Airbus A400M heavy-lift planes had skyrocketed to an "estimated" R47billion that finally prompted the board to act.
The cabinet scrapped the deal this month.
Thomo survived years of controversy.
It recently emerged that hi s pay package included a restraint of trade agreement of one year's salary, or R1,45million, of which 60percent was paid earlier this year. The rest is to be paid on termination of his contract. - Sapa