Faith Muthambi splurge

Minister Muthambi puts great faith in her family

Muthambi hiring relatives and friends to her overstaffed office, say colleagues

13 August 2017 - 00:02 By MZILIKAZI wa AFRIKA and KYLE COWAN

Public Service and Administration Minister Faith Muthambi is staffing her office with friends and relatives - many of them from her home province of Limpopo.
Among the relatives she has appointed to her increasingly bloated staff are uncles and cousins, who have been hired as drivers, deputy directors and a "food services aide" - all allegedly without following due process.
A frustrated official in her department said that it seemed that when the minister went home to Limpopo for a weekend, she would employ another person from her province.Staff numbers in Muthambi's office have burgeoned to at least 27 since she took over the reins of public service and administration five months ago, despite the ministerial handbook making provision for a minister to appoint only 10 people for various functions, plus two advisers.
The appointments are believed to have been made without posts being advertised or interviews held.
Waste of funds
In her previous post as communications minister, Muthambi employed 15 support staff in her office. Current Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo has six.
Muthambi - whose department is tasked with ensuring norms and standards for government officials and promoting ethical service to citizens - has also been accused by some of her staff of blowing R3-million on four community outreach programmes, which they labelled a "complete waste of public funds".
One, held in northern KwaZulu-Natal on May 5, cost taxpayers about R1.5-million.
Details of Muthambi's splurge follow a Sunday Times report last month on how she flew 30 family members to Cape Town in March to watch her budget speech.She has been summoned to appear before the portfolio committee on public service and administration/performance monitoring and evaluation on Tuesday to explain the trip.
It was initially reported that the trip cost taxpayers about R300,000, but sources now say the department spent almost R500,000.
A source said Muthambi took her relatives on a trip to Robben Island and that meals at the V&A Waterfront and hotel rooms were at taxpayer expense.
"Public funds meant to be used to improve the lives of our people were used to entertain Muthambi's family and friends," another source said. "She is doing all of this without any shame or remorse because she is politically connected."
The Sunday Times also reported that the minister had irregularly hired former SABC boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng's 21-year-old daughter, Lerato, as an admin assistant, as well as former police constable Mashudu Tshisikule, who has no tertiary education, as her personal assistant. Tshisikule earned R150,000 a year as a constable and now stands to pocket R1.1-million annually.
Stripped of powers
Two months into her new job, Muthambi stripped her director-general, Mashwahle Diphofa, of his powers to appoint staff. It has now been revealed that among her other appointments at the department are:
• Takalani Mudau, a close friend of Muthambi, as a "food service aide" - a post created for her that pays R131,368 a year;
• Former Daily Sun senior reporter in Polokwane Godfrey Mandiwana, as a deputy director, media liaison;• David Mauba, who is reportedly married to Muthambi's aunt, as a deputy director earning more than R600,000 annually;
• Elvis Matidze and Lombard Munyai, both believed to be relations, as drivers;
• Sello Maumela, also believed to be related, as a deputy director, earning more than R500,000 a year;
• Oratile Nkashe, the daughter of one of Muthambi's longtime friends, as an admin assistant; and
• Khathutshelo Ramabulana, another old friend, as a senior administration officer.Stolen property
When the Sunday Times first approached Muthambi with the allegations last week, she accused the newspaper of being in possession of stolen property and said she had reported the "alleged theft to the law-enforcement agencies".
Responding to detailed questions later, her spokesman, Dumisani Nkwamba, said the minister had not broken any law.
"It is not true that the minister is not following public service prescripts with regard to the appointment of support staff in the ministry. In terms of the Public Service Act, the minister may appoint persons in posts in the ministry without following advertisement processes provided such appointments are linked to the term of the minister or for a period not exceeding three years."

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