Modidima Mannya has resigned as Eastern Cape education department head, premier Noxolo Kiviet announced on Monday.

“Our discussions with Mannya... culminated in a mutual agreement to re-determine his employment contract,” Kiviet said in a speech prepared for delivery.

“In terms of this re-determination (his) contract will end on 30 April 2012, while his operational responsibilities as head of department will cease with effect from the date of the signing of the agreement - that is today.”

The agreement was “in the best interest” of education in the province.

“ 1/8It 3/8 is not by any means a pronouncement on the suitability or not of the head of the department of education,” Kiviet said.

She acknowledged that education in the province had been “fraught with challenges over the past 18 years”.

“(This is) partly derived from historical factors and numerous other dynamic contributing factors. These challenges have resulted in education experiencing the highest leadership turnover, in many instances losing some of our finest leadership at political and administrative levels.”

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga and other senior officials would visit the province on Tuesday and Wednesday for talks with Kiviet.

On April 16, Kiviet's office denied reports that Mannya was being removed from his position.

The Dispatch Online reported that day that the ANC leadership in the Eastern Cape had told Kiviet to negotiate an exit strategy for Mannya.

The premier reportedly wanted to offer him R2 million to leave, but he expected more.

In January, the national government intervened in the provincial department after receiving a damning report from a group of five deputy ministers who visited the province last year to assess progress.

The Dispatch Online reported it was understood that Mannya had not done much to implement what was agreed on between the national and provincial education departments.

On Monday, the Eastern Cape African National Congress welcomed the agreement.

“While we respect the confidentiality clause in the agreement signed by both parties, we take this opportunity to appreciate the work done by... Mannya during his tenure at the helm of the department,” provincial secretary Lubabalo Mabuyane said in a statement.

“We want to state it categorically that the mutual agreement was not influenced by anyone, but was a decision taken by both parties, having considered all possibilities.”

Democratic Alliance MPL Edmund van Vuuren “regretted” Mannya's resignation.

“This department already lacks strong political leadership. With Mannya's resignation, the department has also been left without strong managerial leadership,” he said in a statement.

Van Vuuren said Mannya was “driven out” by the SA Democratic Teachers' Union (Sadtu) in the province.

“Sadtu defied Mannya on many occasions, and absolutely resisted the carrying out of post provisioning for 2012, in other words, the movement of excess educators to substantive vacant posts,” he said.

“Sadtu must not get excited over this resignation. This union must be held responsible as the main contributor of the decay of education in the province.”

Sadtu's provincial office could not immediately be reached for comment. - Sapa