Editorial

Muthambi tries, but fails, to muzzle the Sunday Times

Politicians like Faith Muthambi are a threat to our democracy. But they will not succeed in intimidating us

13 August 2017 - 00:00 By SUNDAY TIMES

Faith Muthambi, that sorry excuse of a cabinet minister, tried unsuccessfully to silence the Sunday Times last week after learning that our reporters were speaking to sources within her department and asking questions about some of her recent appointments.
Our focus into her and her department started last month. This led to us revealing two weeks ago how the minister of public service and administration used your taxes to fly 30 of her family members, neighbours and friends to Cape Town to listen to her deliver her budget speech. That trip is reported to have cost you R300,000.
Today we reveal how the former communications minister is padding her office with friends and relatives. Among relatives appointed to her increasingly bloated staff are her uncles and cousins - hired in various positions, from driver to deputy director, without following proper recruitment processes.
This is the story that Muthambi did not want you to read.Upon hearing that we intended to publish, she wrote to the Tiso Blackstar Group - owners of this newspaper - accusing one of our reporters of stealing documents containing personal information and salary information relating to Muthambi and her staff. Our reporter stole no document from anyone.
In the letter, Muthambi requests the information not be published and says if it is published it would be a violation of the constitution and the Protection of Personal Information Act. What she seemed to miss is that this piece of legislation is not yet enforceable.
Even if it was, section 7 makes clear that the act does not apply to the processing of personal information for journalistic, literary or artistic purposes. She has since changed tack, cajoling her staff to "co-operate with the Hawks" who are investigating "unauthorised leakages of confidential departmental information".
Her actions hardly come as a surprise to us as Muthambi is not known for her good track record as a defender of media freedom. She aided and abetted Hlaudi Motsoeneng in his assault on editorial independence at the SABC.
Politicians like her are a threat to our democracy. But they will not succeed in intimidating us.

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