Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana. File Image: IOL
JOHANNESBURG - Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (Daff) Minister Senzeni Zokwana has to motivate why he should not be held personally liable for legal costs arising from an illegal suspension of his director-general Michael Mlengana.

This after the high court in Pretoria ruled recently that Mlengana’s suspension by Zokwana was unlawful, invalid and of no force and effect.

Zokwana placed Mlengana on precautionary suspension in July 2017 pending an investigation into allegations of gross misconduct against him, which he challenged in court.

The high court ruled that Zokwana lacked the authority to suspend Mlengana, who returned to work on Monday after the suspension was set aside with immediate effect.

The minister was called to show cause on the affidavit on or before May 15 why he should not pay the costs of the application from his own pocket.

Daff said Zokwana noted and was currently studying the judgment.

He was also in consultation with President Cyril Ramaphosa and Public Service and Administration Minister Ayanda Dlodlo to determine what was in the department's best interest.

“The minister is entitled, if he so wishes, to appeal the judgment. That decision can only be made in a few days’ time,” said Daff.

Mlengana, the former first president of the African Farmers Association of SA, said he was happy to be back at work.

“I'm happy the court has made a ruling and that I'm now going back to what I like most. I'm already getting messages from the farming community welcoming me back,” Mlengana said yesterday.

“This is the time for all of us to put our hands on deck and focus on the task at hand, which is to serve our people,” he said.