South Africa 3.9.2018 04:08 pm

Zuma protected Muthambi, state capture inquiry hears

Acting government spokesperson Phumla Williams after giving testimony at the state capture commission, 3 September 2018. Picture: ANA

Acting government spokesperson Phumla Williams after giving testimony at the state capture commission, 3 September 2018. Picture: ANA

‘They were looting and they knew I would never have allowed it. I am hoping he [Zuma] will find it in himself to explain this,’ Phumla Williams told reporters.

Acting government spokesperson Phumla Williams says she believes that former president Jacob Zuma shielded ex-communications minister Faith Muthambi as she ”wreaked havoc” at the Government Communication and Information Systems (GCIS).

She wrapped up her testimony today before the state capture inquiry, detailing Muthambi’s reign of terror following her appointment as communications minister in 2014. Her request for intervention from Zuma went unanswered.

”I think he [Zuma] protected this woman [Muthambi]…I do not know why except to say that removing key functions from me suited them. They were looting and they knew that I would never have allowed it. I am hoping he [Zuma] will find it in himself to explain this,” she told reporters after finishing her testimony.

Williams testified Muthambi’s ”bullying” caused her stress and panic attacks, and brought her memories of torture she suffered from the apartheid regime after she was arrested in 1988.

Earlier, evidence leader Kate Hofmeyer announced that the commission’s investigators were probing Mzwanele ”Jimmy” Manyi’s text to Williams while she was testifying on Friday. In the text, Manyi said: ”Hi Phumla. Please indicate that the CFO and breakfasts happened AFTER my era.”  Williams informed the inquiry about Manyi’s text message

”We would like to inform you that we have received an affidavit from Mr Manyi yesterday [Sunday]. There is an ongoing investigation and I understand a report is being prepared…we thought that the investigation and report be concluded and Mr Manyi’s affidavit be included in that report, in order for the implication of the SMS correspondence on the processes of the commission to be dealt with,” said Hofmeyer.

Commission chairman Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo did not take kindly to Manyi’s text, which he saw as an attempt to influence Williams’ testimony. In a tweet after posting the text on social media, Manyi said he sent the text to ”clarify” that breakfast briefings by the Gupta-owned newspaper, The New Age (TNA), and the state-owned SABC happened after he left GCIS.

Williams testified that when Manyi took over as head of GCIS from Themba Maseko in January 2011, he swiftly implemented a string of changes which included that the media buying division report directly to him.

“When Mr Manyi came in the tender processes changed, they were done by him. He facilitated that the media buying unit report directly to him. Prior to that, that was the responsibility of a chief director. Secondly, Manyi moved the internal audit division to report to him,” Williams told the commission on Friday.

“The impact [of changes brought by Manyi] was massive… it was a culture shock. Within a day, we found our heads spinning… no one was willing to give us an explanation of what that was all about. It did impact on staff morale,” said Williams.

A Zuma loyalist, Manyi took over control of Gupta media outlets, TNA and ANN7 television news channel through a vendor financing deal in 2017. Both TNA and ANN7 has since collapsed.

The Zondo-headed inquiry will resume on Wednesday.

African News Agency (ANA)

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