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Johannesburg - Suspended Limpopo Human Settlements Department head Nnana Manamela has broken her silence, saying the investigation into the awarding of tenders to Julius Malema’s friends was politically motivated.
Manamela told The Star on Wednesday that she was talking to the paper to preserve her reputation.
She suggested that her interrogation by forensic investigators who had been appointed by President Jacob Zuma’s intervention team and the national and provincial treasury departments was “entwined with political connotations”.
The probe was sparked by The Star’s first report in February that the department had allegedly tampered with bid documents to favour companies owned by allies of Malema and business partners of former premier Cassel Mathale, who is now an MP.
At the time, former human settlements MEC Clifford Motsepe, who said he would remain friends with Malema until death parted them, denied any wrongdoing.
Motsepe and Mathale were part of the so-called forces of change, whose campaign to replace Zuma with Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe as party leader failed at the Mangaung conference in December.
On Wednesday, Manamela said investigators wanted to know why she had approved multimillion-rand contracts while the ANC conference was under way. They wanted to know why she was on duty in December, she said.
“Do we mean to say that during different party conferences, government should go on recess? Am I supposed to be a sacrificial lamb for political bickering?” Manamela asked.
“Was I not supposed to work in December, just because there was a (political party) conference? I cannot allow my name to be tainted in that manner,” she added.
New Limpopo Premier Stan Mathabatha suspended Manamela on Monday after a forensic report, which reveals that companies without tax clearance certificates were awarded contracts, was handed to him.
The premier also suspended Education Department head Morebudi Thamaga in what was thought to be part of his clean-up campaign.
She approved the final recommendations of the bid adjudication committee only after it had satisfied itself with the review, she said.
Manamela said she did not know the former ANC Youth League leader personally.
The head of the national intervention team, Monde Tom, referred queries to national Treasury spokesman Jabulani Sikhakhane, who had not responded for comment at the time of publication.