Communications minister Siphiwe Nyanda needs to appear before parliament’s communications portfolio committee to explain his reasons for dismissing his director general Mamodupi Mohlala, the Democratic Alliance said on Tuesday.
“It is deeply concerning that the minister seems to have taken this action on his own accord amid allegations that he is trying to centralise the control of departmental tenders in his own authority, apparently without due consultation in cabinet or with the president,” DA chief whip Ian Davidson said.
If that was indeed the case, then Nyanda should at the very least explain to parliament the rationale behind this drastic action.
He should also explain how the department was going to maintain the separation of duties and powers between its political and civil service heads.
“At the end of a sequence of contradictory statements, the minister euphemistically said there had been a ‘breakdown in relations’ between the director-general and himself. This is a remarkable about-face from the representations the minister made to the public on 15 July when reports first began circulating that the director-general’s dismissal was imminent,” he said.
Nyanda’s spokesman Tiyani Rikhotso said then that reports of the dismissal were “false, spurious and malicious” and that it was “highly unfortunate that people indulge in malicious rumour mongering”.
“If we are to take these statements at face value, then there has been a seismic shift in relations at the upper echelons of the department in the past fortnight,” Davidson said.
However, if one considered the more likely case that the department’s first aggressive denunciation of reports of the dismissal was nothing more than another incident of the “national government’s policy of vindictive retaliation whenever it is questioned in any way”, these tensions had existed for some time and were potentially linked to the matter of tender awards, a subject the minister could hardly afford to be mired in further.
Either way, the public, whom all these officials were elected to serve, had been left in the dark. “And it is they that now deserve an explanation. And so the minister needs to appear before the portfolio committee,” Davidson said. — Sapa