08/10/2010 Tina Joemat Pettersson Minister of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries during the AgriSA congress, held at Mulderdrift Roodepoort. Photo: Leon Nicholas

Accusing staff of running an internal campaign to discredit her, Agriculture Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson says she will not be threatened, harassed or intimidated.

Joemat-Pettersson spoke to The Sunday Independent on Saturday, responding to questions about the continual staff changes in her ministry.

She was reluctant to respond to questions, saying there was an internal investigation focusing on corruption, which was at an advanced stage.

“I have consistently said the battle against corruption in the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries will continue. I will not be intimidated, threatened or harassed.”

She said she had no time to “respond to misinformation” and would not “back off”.

The investigation, said Joemat-Pettersson, would clarify a number of matters. But a number of staff members refused to co-operate.

Her spokeswoman Palesa Mokomele said that changes of staff in the ministry and department were not “unusual”:

“People are seconded to the ministry from the department and do move back to their positions after completion of their time at the ministry,” she said.

Commenting on Kwena Komape, the attaché to Rome who was removed from her position, Joemat-Pettersson said Komape worked for the department.

“I have no jurisdiction for the movement of attachés. It is done by the director general.”

Bonge Mthembu, the administration secretary who was removed from her post last month, had moved between the ministry and department several times since 2009.

“Ms Mthembu was compensated for the ministerial allowances, that she will no longer receive once she is out of the ministry, she cannot claim now that her salary position should not be affected by the relocation,” Mokomele said.

Meanwhile, the Public Protector is probing the awarding of an R800 million tender to Sekunjalo to police SA’s marine resources.

The tender was withdrawn.

In June Joemat-Pettersson refused to enter the Cape Town Press Club, where she was to address members following her budget speech in Parliament unless a DA MP and member of the club, Pieter van Dalen, was booted out.

She has also allegedly racked up traffic fines worth R30 400, the fourth highest in the cabinet.

Last year it was revealed that Joemat-Pettersson spent more than R1.5m on hotels in Pretoria and Cape Town, despite the fact she has residences in both cities.

She has dismissed all allegations.

Sunday Independent