Placing of HODs brought into question

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

The suspension of Modidima Mannya, head of KwaZulu-Natal department of agriculture and environmental affairs, has raised many questions about the system used to appoint HODs.

Mannya was appointed to root out corruption and bring stability to the department but this has apparently not happened.

This after the previous HOD, Jabulani Mjwara, left under a cloud following a damning forensic report that revealed that more than R80million of taxpayers' money was missing.

But Mannya has not turned the fortunes of the department around as expected.

He took over the reins last August but barely six months later became involved in scuffles with MEC Mtholephi Mthimkhulu, other managers and junior officials, who asked Premier S'bu Ndebele to intervene.

Mannya is not the first HOD to be suspended after a breakdown in relations with the department's head and managers.

Ndebele also suspended Busi Nyembezi, health HOD, after countless allegations were levelled at her. Among these was a charge of corruption.

It's alleged that Nyembezi had run-ins with MEC Peggy Nkonyeni and other managers.

As in Nyembezi's case, Ndebele has commissioned a law firm to investigate Mannya.

The attorneys have recommended that he be suspended while the investigation continues.

It's alleged that Mthimkhulu and Mannya have not been communicating for months.

Political analyst Thami Ngwenya says HODs are supposed to have a good working relationship with their political heads.

He said it seemed as if there was a problem with the current system used by government to appoint HODs.

"Provincial governments follow the president's approach who appoint director-generals for departments, but they interact with their political heads," Ngwenya says.

"The Department of Home Affairs also had a similar problem when the minister complained that the DGs that were sent to her department were undermining her."

He said MEC's also take part in the process when a premier appoints HODs, but it's not clear whether they are appointed on merit.