DURBAN – A KwaZulu-Natal department of agriculture and rural development official has been suspended for transporting people to a political campaign.

It is also alleged that the official stole fertiliser, seeds and farming implements –earmarked to support the community – for political campaigning.

The incident coincides with the local government by-elections taking place in KZN on Wednesday.

The vacancies in three of the four wards that are being contested were created as a result of the death of councillors. Only one vacancy, in Okhahlamba, was as a result of the resignation of an elected councillor.

On Wednesday, the department released a media statement, saying it acted quickly by suspending an agriculture adviser for serious misconduct after he was allegedly caught transporting voters during political by-elections in Bergville, in the Okhahlamba District.

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MEC Bongiwe Sithole-Moloi said due to the seriousness and gravity of the allegations, and in order to ensure that the investigation proceeds unhindered, the official was placed on precautionary suspension until the finalisation of the investigation.

The MEC expressed concern and instructed that the department should act within the ambit of the law and apply all public service regulations to ensure that the official faced the full might of the law.

“We trust our officials to deliver services to our people, what this official did is very wrong because as a government we are putting serious effort to fight poverty engulfing our communities. We did not expect our officials to use our state vehicles for political campaigning. This cannot be correct, as there are people who are awaiting assistance and information from the agricultural advisor who has decided to be a politician,” Sithole-Moloi said.

“As the MEC for this department, I strongly condemn what this official did and we are investigating the matter. The evidence we have received so far was enough for us to put him on precautionary suspension.”

Sithole-Moloi also said she hoped no political party would ever condone such incidents, because it counteracted what they had always been preaching as the government to fight the triple challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality.

“Officials are not politicians but civil servants, they are entrusted with delivering services to our people. They must leave politics to politicians and continue to do their work which they have applied for through the Z83 system,” MEC Sithole-Moloi said.

She also encouraged the community to report government officials who are abusing state resources.

“These resources are meant to help the government to fight poverty and help our people who are eager to venture into the farming sector, not for political campaigning.

“I am so disappointed by this act, with a hope that the department will ensure that this will never happen again,” Sithole-Moloi said.

Daily News

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