Suspendedofficial seeks R5m handshake

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

A golden handshake seems to be the only solution for the KwaZulu-Natal government to get rid of top officials who have fallen out of favour.

This appears to be the path the department of agriculture and environmental affairs is likely to follow to end an acrimonious encounter with its suspended head of department (HOD), Modidima Mannya.

Mannya has a five-year contract with the department, and has only served five months of it, making him to be in line to being bought out for at least R5 million.

Relations between Mannya and MEC Mtholephi Mthimkhulu has hit rock-bottom.

It is alleged that Mannya is interested in either being bought out or that Mthimkhulu should go if he (Mannya) is to remain.

A highly-placed source told Sowetan that Mannya had been positioning himself for the past few months.

"Both men have been playing a cat and mouse game for the past four months and have been communicating through SMSes only," the source said.

Mannya's close allies within the department claim that he had told them that Mthimkhulu's future was not guaranteed after the ANC's Polokwane conference.

"Mannya then sought to associate himself with the victorious ANC group of MEC Zweli Mkhize," said the source.

She said Mannya wanted to be paid R5 million to leave the department - or that Premier S'bu Ndebele show Mthimkhulu the door.

The source said the premier's office had offered Mannya only R2,5 million to buy him out of his contract.

The acting chief financial officer, Ndaba Ngwane, who also had run-ins with Mannya, has been appointed acting HOD.

Mannya's annual package, which includes benefits, totals over R1 million. His monthly salary is about R90000.

The department had paid the former HOD, Jabulani Mjwara, up to R55840 for an outstanding performance bonus.

Mjwara resigned after a damning forensic report that revealed that more than R80 million of taxpayers' money was unaccounted for.

Logan Maistry, spokesman for Ndebele's office, said he could neither deny nor confirm that correspondence on the matter had been received by the premier's office from the department of agriculture.

"The premier and the director-general are in Atlanta (US) and will only be coming back on Tuesday (today)," said Maistry.