Charges of tribalism
Controversy surrounds the suspension of six senior officials of the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture in Limpopo.
The officials were suspended on Thursday - after a forensic investigation reportedly instituted by former MEC Joe Maswanganyi - into fraud and corruption relating to the Mapungubwe Arts Festival in 2005.
They are Hloki Sebola, senior manager for communications; Junior Ramusi, senior manager for sports development; Ansie Mahlake, senior manager for library and archives; Paledi Tawana, deputy manager for school sport; Nakampe Rasebotsa, manager for service delivery; and Douglas Msimeki, manager for transport and auxiliary services.
All were suspended with full pay pending investigation.
The officials said they were targeted as part of a witch-hunt waged by Joyce Mashamba, now an MEC, to please her predecessor.
This, they alleged, was because Maswanganyi and Mashamba were bent on removing Sepedi-speaking people to pave the way for people from other ethnic groups.
Maswanganyi was fired in November and the department has undergone several changes since Mashamba replaced him.
Eight managers were transferred, allegedly without valid reasons and without their consent, contrary to public service regulations.
The officials said many managers were without the qualifications, skills, experience and passion necessary to function effectively in the sections to which they were transferred.
They said tribalism, favouritism and other personal interests played a role in the decision to transfer managers from core strategic sections to sections with lower budgets.
They have asked Premier Sello Moloto to examine the reasons for their suspension.
"It is clear that someone is using us as cannon fodder because all positions vacated as a result of the suspensions were filled by non-Pedi speaking people," said one source.
The officials said they would fight "to ensure that justice is done".
The department's spokesman, Adele van der Linde, refused to comment yesterday and said the dispute was at "a sensitive stage".