Portfolio committee wants answers from Muthambi over family jaunt

Chairperson of the portfolio committee on public service and administration, Dr Makhosi Khoza, and her committee will demand answers from Faith Muthambi on the allegations that she flew 30 of her family members at taxpayers’ expense to Cape Town for her first budget speech as minister of public service and administration.

The Sunday Times reported that R300,000 was spent on flying 30 people to watch her speech in Parliament.

These guests reportedly included her son, sister, aunt, mother and former SABC board chairperson Ellen Tshabalala, as well as former SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s daughter, whom she hired to work for her.

Tshabalala resigned from the SABC board after Parliament found that she had lied about her qualifications. She was spotted in the public gallery during Muthambi’s speech on May 24.

Muthambi told the Sunday Times that she was allowed to invite guests to her budget vote speech, but other ministers told the newspaper that these guests had to have something to do with the department.

‘Unfair recruitment processes’

On Monday, Khoza, in her capacity as committee chairperson, released a statement saying the committee “noted with concern” the media reports alleging that Muthambi used taxpayers’ money to pay for her family members and friends to attend the department’s budget vote.

“The committee’s concern arises in the context of austerity measures implemented by the National Treasury in relation to budget vote programmes. The committee will urgently engage with the department to ascertain if there was such expenditure and the rationale behind the expenditure.

“The committee will also probe allegations of unfair recruitment processes in a department that should set a standard for the entire public service,” reads the statement.

“The committee reiterates its principled stance that prudent spending of taxpayers’ money must be adhered to at all times.”

Democratic Alliance MP Desiree van der Walt on Sunday said she would write to Khoza to request that Muthambi is summoned to appear before the committee to explain these expenses.

“‘Meddling’ Muthambi, who is seemingly deeply compromised and who is the very same person who oversaw the demise of the SABC, is clearly at it again in her new portfolio,” Van der Walt said in a statement.

Earlier this year, the ad hoc committee that investigated the SABC board found Muthambi, who served as communications minister since June 2014, to be “incompetent”.

Khoza served on that committee and was one of the MPs who grilled Muthambi when she appeared before the committee.

Treason and corruption charges

In President Jacob Zuma’s dramatic late night Cabinet reshuffle, he moved Muthambi to her current portfolio.

Recently the #GuptaLeaks revealed that Muthambi allegedly sent emails containing confidential information about executive policy and the scope of her ministerial powers to Tony Gupta, shortly after Zuma appointed her communications minister in July and August 2014.

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) two weeks ago laid charges of high treason and corruption against Muthambi following these revelations.

Khoza, who gained a reputation as an MP who takes her oversight role seriously, made headlines of late after her life was threatened because of her oversight work and after she called for a secret ballot in the upcoming vote of no confidence in Zuma.


Read: Minister spends R300,000 on luxury trip for 30 family members

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Portfolio committee wants answers from Muthambi over family jaunt