'I was hounded out by criminals'

Riot Hlatshwayo

Riot Hlatshwayo

The suspension of Phillip Dexter as chairman of the Mpumalanga Economic Growth Agency has opened a can of worms about the organisation.

This follows Dexter's accusation that economic development and planning MEC Craig Padayachee was in cahoots with senior staff members at Mega to oust him.

Dexter said he became frustrated in Mega after being subjected to "sustained abuse, intimidation and even death threats" by what he called "organised criminals" in the Mpumalanga Economic Empowerment Corporation (MEEC), who had also attempted to do so at Mega.

Mega was formed after a merger between the MEEC and Mpumalanga Investment Initiative.

"Padayachee said that he had put me on indefinite leave of absence as chairman of the Mega board," Dexter said.

"He has stated that allegations of impropriety have been made against me and that these are to be investigated.

"I felt it important to inform the public of facts relating to this suspension and the events leading up to it, given his public announcement."

Dexter said he had informed Padayachee that he was considering resigning from the Mega board.

"At that meeting with the MEC in October I indicated to him that I had already raised the issue with the board about the gossiping, rumour-mongering and character assassination of myself by certain senior managers at Mega.

"I also later supplied him with details of these allegations in writing," Dexter said.

He said the board had undertaken, at his request, to investigate these allegations.

"The board set up a process to interview senior managers and present a report of their findings to the next board meeting," he explained.

He said Padayachee then intervened to talk to the implicated senior managers and the board.

"Padayachee later phoned me and asked me when I would be resigning," Dexter said.

"I told him that I would not resign since this would be interpreted as an admission of wrongdoing on my part. The MEC then threatened to use his powers to remove me from the board."

Padayachee said in a statement: "My decision to grant Dexter leave of absence was motivated by the need to determine the veracity of allegations made against him."