The Democratic Alliance (DA) has given KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Premier, Sihle Zikalala until Friday (view here) to respond to its ongoing calls for the suspension of provincial Education Head of Department (HOD), Dr Enoch Nzama. The move comes after new information, received by the DA, which shows that despite suggestions to the contrary, Nzama played a major role in the Department’s sanitary towel programme.
The damning finding is contained within a 2017 letter, from Dr Nzama to KZN Treasury HOD, Simiso Magagula, (view here) in which he requests almost R110 million specifically for the project.
The DA is also in possession of several other documents from the full forensic report which bear the HOD’s signature and approval, all of which points not only to his direct knowledge of everything that went on, but also his authorization and `stamp of approval’. The full report was obtained by the DA through an anonymous source after KZN Education MEC, Kwazi Mshengu, refused to release it to the provincial Education Portfolio Committee (EPC).
The DA’s findings prove that despite his claims that he had nothing to do with the programme or the skullduggery unearthed in the tender process, HoD Nzama in fact knew exactly what was going on. Yet, in true ANC-cadre fashion, he seems to have been protected by the MEC and an ANC Member of the EPC who are also clearly happy for other officials to be thrown under the bus.
The matter of the HOD’s appointment falls under the authority of the Premier. It therefore follows that any suspension is at his discretion. The DA firmly believes that the time has come for Premier Sihle Zikalala to act.
By now, the Premier would have had sight of the completed report into the skullduggery that went on. This also means that he should, by now, have had the opportunity to be fully briefed on the matter by KZN’s Education MEC, Kwazi Mshengu and departmental officials. There can also be little doubt that HOD Nzama would also have had to interact with the likely initiator of the project in KZN, former Education MEC Mthandeni Dlungwane. The Premier needs to clarify this. He should know given his tenure during the previous parliamentary term.
It is untenable that Dr Nzama should remain at the helm of this Department while his alleged involvement in this scam is clearly still unresolved and while any further investigations take place. Furthermore, his participation as a witness against any officials also implicated cannot be regarded as valid given his role as Accounting Officer [PFMA 44(2)(d)] as demonstrated in the full report. If he has already given testimony or participated, then the chance that the process has been compromised is highly plausible. This raises the serious question of whether the outcome can be declared to be just and fair? The DA does not believe so.
Then there are the concerns that, given these circumstances, any legal challenge by any other accused party will result in unnecessary expenditure by the State in defence of a possibly flawed process. It is now up to the Premier to take the necessary steps to mitigate against this, lest he be later blamed for not acting when he could and should have done so.
The DA’s call for the suspension of Dr Nzama does not come lightly. But we believe that under the circumstances, it is the right thing to do. We now appeal to the Premier to give this matter the serious consideration it deserves and to respond by no later than 16 October. This matter can no longer be allowed to drag on.