Bhisho accounting officer Mpolweni to step down early

Transport department head Irene Mpolweni has been relieved of all her powers delegated to her by transport MEC Weziwe Tikana.
Transport department head Irene Mpolweni has been relieved of all her powers delegated to her by transport MEC Weziwe Tikana.
Image: Supplied

Months of animosity between transport MEC Weziwe Tikana-Gxothiwe and department head Irene Mpolweni will come to an end on Thursday when the accounting officer vacates the position — a month early.

Mpolweni's contract was due to end at the end of November, but Thursday will be her last day as she asked to instead make October her last month at the department.

This follows Tikana-Gxothiwe's decision to strip her off “all her powers” — a move that was backed by premier Oscar Mabuyane.

Tikana-Gxothiwe wrote to Mpolweni saying she was not happy with how the HOD was handling administrative matters.

This was after Tikana-Gxothiwe and Mpolweni butted heads before the standing committee on public accounts in Bhisho a fortnight ago.

That was not their first clash.

Sources in the department say relations between the two broke down after Mpolweni suspended three officials for the Mthatha airport debacle that resulted in flights being grounded because of the airport's failure to meet safety standards.

Mpolweni was suspended by former premier Phumulo Masualle after she suspended the three officials, but she was retained by Mabuyane when he took over.

In the terse letter, dated October 24, which the Daily Dispatch has seen, Tikana-Gxothiwe implied that Mpolweni had overlooked and undermined her.

“There have been a myriad of activities wherein my office as the executive authority as well as the political head has not been taken into confidence or properly briefed,” she said, adding that Mpolweni had abandoned the agreement they had with Mabuyane that they would put their differences aside.

Stamping her authority, the MEC, said: “I hereby, by virtues of powers contained in both the Public Service Act, as amended, as well as the public service regulations of 2016, hereby withdraw all delegations that I have given to you in terms of these two pieces of legislation with the effect from October 24.”

Tikana-Gxothiwe could not be reached.

Mpolweni said she had not received any letter and redirected the Daily Dispatch to the MEC.

Mabuyane's spokesperson, Mvusiwekhaya Sicwetsha, said after the premier's intervention, it had been agreed that the two would work together — something that did not happen as they continued being at each other's throats.

Sicwetsha said: “The premier is aware of the letter withdrawing delegated authority to the head of department. He has received it.

“He is of the view that after various engagements between them, the MEC is within her rights to do that because it's her responsibility to do so.

“The current impasse in that department isn't helping the MEC to achieve the electoral mandate in that department.”

Sicwetsha confirmed that Mpolweni  had requested to vacate her position on Thursday.

Sicwetsha said there would not be a vacuum from Thursday as the “responsibility of the premier and MEC is to make sure there is stability in all the departments”, but could not say who would be appointed in an acting capacity.

soyisom@dispatch.co.za


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