It's a smear campaign, cries booted fisheries boss

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It's a smear campaign, cries booted fisheries boss

Mike Mlengana hits back over state-contract allegations after minister axes him

Aron Hyman and Bobby Jordan

An emotional Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries director-general Mike Mlengana claims he is the victim of a sustained smear campaign after a senior official accused him of benefiting from R100-million worth of state contracts.
Speaking to Times Select on Thursday, Mlengana denied having received a letter written by fisheries deputy director-general Siphokazi Ndudane in which she made various allegations against Mlengana, including that he was conducting a smear campaign against her.
A copy of the letter, which bears a receipt stamp signed by an official in Mlengana’s office and is dated June 8, was in response to a motion of suspension that Mlengana sent to Ndudane earlier this month.
The suspension was executed last week after allegations that Ndudane had irregularly appointed private legal services to the tune of R80-million instead of using the state attorney.
This week, however, Minister Senzeni Zokwana stepped in and instead revoked Mlengana’s powers in the department and reversed Ndudane’s suspension along with those of other officials in the department.
Zokwana’s spokesperson, Khaye Nkwanyana, said Mlengana had now “effectively hijacked” the department and that he and other senior officials were in revolt against the minister.
He said the minister had written to President Cyril Ramaphosa requesting intervention in the matter and for him to take action against Mlengana.
But powerful labour union Nehawu has also written a letter to Ramaphosa, in which it backed Mlengana and requested an investigation into Zokwana.Zokwana placed Mlengana on suspension in 2017 following two investigations into irregularities with regards to a contract for the disposal of R45-million worth of confiscated abalone being held in the state’s stockpiles, and another tender for security fences at two harbours worth R55-million.
Mlengana fought that suspension in court and won a high court order earlier this year to get his job back.
The abalone contract was awarded to Willjaro, a private company headed by Gershom Ramazan, who Ndudane, in her letter, claims has business links to Mlengana.
Ramazan denied having a business relationship with Mlengana.
“It’s absolute lies. If she says that she must put evidence in front of you guys,” said Ramazan.
“I don’t have any relationship with the DG, whether it’s in business or in friendship,” he said.
When contacted on Thursday afternoon, Mlengana said he did not receive Ndunane’s letter.
He accused the journalist of being paid by Zokwana to write defamatory stories about him, and refused to give an answer to the allegations.
“I don’t want to get into that. I know you are part of them. I have put down what I’m doing and I’m getting sick and tired of you trying to create this thing,” he said.

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