The ministry of public service and administration has denied claims that minister Faith Muthambi wanted to suspend three top officials for refusing to approve irregular imbizo expenditure.
The spokesperson for the minister, Pfarelo Maduguma, has told The Citizen the media has been waging a campaign against Muthambi, and, in the process, reported negatively and without factual basis.
A few months ago, leaked Gupta emails showed how Muthambi, then the communications minister, released confidential Cabinet information to a Gupta-related group of recipients.
Maduguma also argued that all ministers were permitted to hold at least 10 imbizos each year. In a parliamentary response to EFF’s Leigh-Anne Matthys, Muthambi admitted to having spent R3.2 million on 10 imbizos, shared between her and her deputy, Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba, in her first five months in office.
Yet, the department of public service and administration website shows that more imbizos are in the pipeline, with the next one scheduled for November 3 to be addressed by Letsatsi-Duba.
“It is not correct that Minister Muthambi is an imbizo-cheearleading queen who wastes public money on roadshows. When she was deployed to the department at the beginning of the current financial year, the budgets for various programmes were already approved.
“This includes the budgets for hosting izimbizo because even the previous ministers and ministers of other departments do hold izimbizo. The funds used for izimbizo are budgeted for, and will be accounted for in the annual report of the department,” Maguduma said.
He added the izimbizo are not about the minister, but rather beneficial to the citizens of the country, as it enabled the “ongoing programme of taking government to the people through the community outreach initiatives”.
He said they were preceded by detailed assessments and analysis of the Front Line Service Delivery Points.
“At this point, only 53% of the budget allocated for the izimbizo has been spent, and no additional funds were ever requested. It is therefore untrue that such a budget has been depleted,” Maduguma added and made an undertaking to forward The Citizen a comprehensive report of how much was allocated and the total expenditure associated with this programme to date.