Top dollar to spin doctors but peanuts for vets

Advertisements placed in weekend newspapers as part of the agriculture department’s recently announced recruitment drive raise serious misgivings about its priorities.
Issue date: 23 May 2008

- Advertisement -

Advertisements placed in weekend newspapers as part of the agriculture department’s recently announced recruitment drive raise serious misgivings about its priorities.

Of 66 positions advertised, the top-paying job at Mpumalanga’s agriculture department is that of a communications director, who will get R540 000 a year. The only qualifications required are a communications degree and three years’ experience in the field of communication.

Farmer’s Weekly has yet to see any evidence of communication emanating from the Mpumalanga agriculture department. In contrast, salaries offered in areas critical to the wellbeing of SA agriculture and food security pale into insignificance. This is despite senior national officials telling Farmer’s Weekly that these fields are suffering from severe skills shortages, and efforts would be stepped up to recruit suitable candidates.

- Advertisement -

A state veterinarian with post-graduate training in laboratory management takes home R311 358 and a senior agricultural economist gets a measly R132 054, as does a senior state accountant and agricultural scientist.Clearly the science and economics of agriculture is held in lower esteem than the talents of spin doctors. – Stephan Hofstätter

KZN agri head’s suspension stands

The MEC for Agriculture and Environmental Affairs in KwaZulu-Natal, Mtholephi Mthimkhulu, has welcomed the Durban Labour Court’s dismissal of Advocate Modidima Mannya’s application to have his suspension from the MEC’s department set aside.

Mannya was appointed early last year as the head of the KZN Department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs, but only months after his appointment he was suspended by KZN’s premier, Sibusiso Ndebele, after the department’s top management accused Mannya of serious incidents of misconduct relating to his management style. “The court’s decision to dismiss the application has vindicated our stance that the suspension had been procedurally executed,” department spokesman Mbulelo Baloyi said.

The Court’s acting judge AJ Cele also ordered Mannya to pay the costs of the first respondent, Premier Ndebele and the second respondent, MEC Mthimkhulu. “The ruling has now paved the way for the resumption of the disciplinary hearing against Mannya, who faces 28 charges,” said Baloyi.

Mannya’s suspension was yet another setback for a department that’s been beset by problems for many years already, mostly as a result of alleged financial and administrative misconduct by another previous HOD, Dr Jabulani Mjwara. Despite nearly R100 million of the department’s budget for 2005/06 allegedly unaccounted for, no action has yet been taken against Mjwara. In the meantime, the MEC and his acting HOD, Siddiq Adam, have been frantically trying to get the department’s Agrarian Revolution policies back on track. – Lloyd Phillips

Forensic report to go public

Land Bank chairPERSON Themba Langa told parliament the forensic report into financial mismanagement at the troubled institution would be made public.

Last year, Cabinet recommended executives named in the report should face criminal proceedings, but the decision was later rescinded. This prompted calls for the report to be released amid fears of political interference.anga said he’d briefed two advocates to advise the board by 19 May on whether to pursue criminal charges, whereafter the board would be able to report to the portfolio committee and release the report. The board was determined to achieve finality, root out bad elements and “not let the Land Bank be a reserve space for bad deeds,” he said.The bank also tabled a fraud and corruption prevention plan. It included stringent provisions on conflict of interest, human resources procedures and compliance with internal controls being used in salary-related performance evaluations.

In an earlier presentation, the bank listed 16 misconduct cases concluded or underway involving senior management. They included four for fraud, eight for gross misconduct or dishonesty, two for gross negligence or insubordination and two for financial irregularities.Seven cases have been finalised, with managers found guilty and dismissed, while five are being processed, including against chief financial officer Xolile Ncame. Four new cases were recently opened, including against three administrative staff. – Stephan Hofstätter