Pretoria - Suspended Director-General of Rural Development and Land Reform Mduduzi Shabane, who is also the accounting officer of this department, lost his urgent bid to halt disciplinary proceedings against him on charges of alleged financial misconduct.
Shabane’s hearing is due to go ahead on Thursday, where he will have to answer to six charges.
He rushed to the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday for an order declaring the disciplinary proceedings unlawful, but the matter was only heard on Wednesday.
He asked that the minister of rural development and land reform be interdicted from instituting the proceedings against him.
According to Shabane, only President Jacob Zuma has the power to institute disciplinary proceedings against him.
Shabane has been the director-general of this department since November 2010. Following an audit report of the department’s financial affairs, he was suspended in December last year with full benefits.
His disciplinary hearing is due to run from today up until July 14. The last sitting was in May this year, when Shabane’s legal team challenged the legal standing of the minister to institute the proceedings against him.
The minister had appointed senior advocate Nazeer Cassim as the chairperson of the disciplinary proceedings.
Cassim, when confronted with this issue, said he was not at liberty to decide on the legal standing of the minister. This caused Shabane to, on an urgent basis, turn to court.
Shabane said in court papers that due to his high ranking in the department, the president is the one with the powers to appoint him and thus the one to institute or delegate disciplinary proceedings against him.
He said following his suspension, he was handed a charge sheet , accompanied by a notice to attend a disciplinary hearing.
On May 2, when the hearing commenced and he objected to it as it was in his opinion illegal, the parties tried to settle the issues. These negotiations, however, were fruitless.
Shabane said he attempted to exhaust all amicable remedies to find a solution, but he was at the end forced to seek the help of the court.
He made it clear that he had nothing to hide and that he did not have a problem to subject himself to disciplinary proceedings, but he said such a process should be before a legal entity.
Judge Hans Fabricius pointed out to Shabane’s counsel that he cannot simply interdict the proceedings from going ahead, if they did not have a plan in place such as asking for an interdict, pending a review against the hearing.
Advocate Smanga Sethene, acting for Shabane, asked the court’s indulgence to amend the order he is asking.
But Advocate Ernst van Graan SC, appearing on behalf of the minister, said: “This is a case of Humpty Dumpty and all the King’s men. All the amendments in the world won’t save Humpty Dumpty from falling off the wall.”
He pointed out four flaws, many of a technical nature, as to why the application cannot succeed. These include that Shabane created his own urgency in the case and that he transgressed the court rules pertaining to urgent applications.
Judge Fabricius agreed and struck the matter from the roll. He also slapped Shabane with the legal bill.
The judge said there were two options open to Shabane - he either won his disciplinary hearing, which will be the end of the matter, or turned to court to review and set aside the findings of the hearing.