Samas tender dragged into fallout between ANC bigwig, HOD

KwaZulu-Natal economic development MEC Siboniso Duma is due to field questions in the legislature on the allegedly ballooned budget for the 29th SA Music Awards (Samas) to be hosted in the province.

He is also expected to provide answers about the premature departure of his head of department (HOD), Nhlakanipho Nkotwana.

Since Nkotwana’s unceremonious exit, opposition parties in the province have been calling for Duma’s head.

It is alleged that Duma, who also serves as ANC provincial chairperson, purged Nkontwana after a fallout between the two.

However the IFP, which is the main opposition party in the provincial legislature, said it is alarming that Nkontwana was booted out after an announcement that the province would host the Samas.

“We hope that the dismissal of the HOD had nothing to do with the clash of tenders,” said IFP economic development spokesperson Otto Kunene.

“We also know that KZN will host the 2023 Samas, which we were initially told would cost taxpayers in the region of R8-million, but we later learnt that the figure has ballooned to R28-million.

“This surprises us considering the challenges faced by ordinary people on the ground.”

The party said it would put these questions to Duma when he appears at the next portfolio committee meeting.

PSC asked to intervene

Sunday World understands that Nkontwana has asked that the Public Service Commission (PSC) intervene in the matter.

The PSC is a Chapter 9 institution that investigates and monitors the personnel practices of the public service.

Other allegations also surfaced this week that the department has been used as a milk cow for senior officials and politicians.

The allegations prompted the DA to write to the Special Investigating Unit asking the anti-corruption unit to probe the alleged malfeasance.

Sources who spoke to Sunday World this week pointed out that Nkontwana was deliberately sidelined to make way for Thandeka Ellenson, the new HOD.

“The HOD was a victim of the ANC factions. His only sin was that he wanted to do his job professionally,” said an insider who preferred to remain anonymous.

“This did not sit well with comrades who felt that he was on his own personal crusade, and that he chose the wrong faction.”

Duma, Nkontwana butt heads

Another insider said Nkontwana and Duma had butted heads several times over how the department should be run.

“You must recall that the department has a massive budget. The MEC wanted to have greater control over how the department should be run, but the HOD was clear that he was in charge,” said the source.

It is also understood that Nkontwana, who is hailed as a seasoned administrator, had his performance scores apparently altered in a bid to show him the door.

Now the DA, the third-biggest party in the province, is leading a charge demanding an investigation into the circumstances that led to Nkontwana’s ousting.

“The DA remains extremely concerned about the shuffling of key administrative figures without the portfolio committee being briefed by either MEC Duma or the Office of the Premier,” said Heinz de Boer, DA’s spokesperson on economic development.

“The DA believes the breakdown of trust between the feuding parties could severely hamper the operations of the economic development department.

“We are therefore calling for an investigation to find out what led to the sacking of Nkontwana.”

Prior to joining the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government in 2020, Nkontwana served as HOD in various government departments in Gauteng.

Numerous attempts by Sunday World to get a comment from the department proved futile.

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