IFP, premier in row over heritage body

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

The IFP in KwaZulu-Natal is accusing provincial premier S'bu Ndebele of concealing serious problems in his office's relationship with certain public entities.

The accusations follows last week's decision by Ndebele to axe Amafa chairperson, Arthur Koningkramer, and the entire board of the heritage body hot on the heels by the suspension of its CEO Barry Marshall on Tuesday.

Amafa is the provincial heritage conservation agency. It was established as a statutory body in terms of the KZN Heritage Act of 1997.

The Council of Amafa is appointed by the premier, and is funded through a grant from the same department.

It has offices in Pietermaritzburg, Durban and Ulundi

Ndebele announced two days ago that Marshall had been suspended with immediate effect pending the outcome of a forensic investigation into the affairs of Amafa.

Professor Musa Xulu was appointed acting CEO.

IFP's Lionel Mtshali says his party views the axing and subsequent suspension of Marshall with growing concern.

"The series of sudden dismissals and suspensions at Amafa could only serve to conceal serious misgivings in the relations between the office of the premier and certain public entities," said Mtshali.

Mtshali said as it was the case in last week's dismissal of Amafa's chairperson and the council, the IFP questions the premier's right to axe key personnel at Amafa which is subject to the provisions of the KwaZulu-Natal Heritage Act of 1997.

"There is a string of officials who have been suspended from positions within the provincial government by the ruling party to cover up instances of overspending, mismanagement and conflict of interest.

"We sincerely hope this is not the case at Amafa," he said.

Ndebele's spokesperson, Logan Maistry, said he was not in a position to give reasons why the investigations were instituted, saying this might lead to some people speculating the outcome of the investigations.

"We do not want to comment further than confirming that there are investigations currently going on" said Maistry.

"We don't want people to pre-empt the outcome. We feel that we need to wait until the investigations have been completed and we promise that the findings would be made public."