Zuma's spin man mum on rumours

2010-04-30 22:16

Johannesburg - Presidential spokesperson Vincent Magwenya would not be drawn on reports on Friday that he plans to leave President Jacob Zuma's communications team.

"Whether I'm staying or leaving, the issue is purely an internal matter that I do not want to discuss in public," said Magwenya.

The Business Day reported on Friday that Magwenya would resign over conflict with African National Congress Youth League spokesperson Zizi Kodwa, who has recently been appointed as Zuma's media consultant.

This, following the resignation of chief operations officer in the presidency, Jessie Duarte, a former ANC spokesperson, MEC and foreign ambassador.

Tense atmosphere

In an email published by the Sunday Times several weeks ago, Duarte raised concerns about the atmosphere in the presidency.

She has subsequently denied suggestions that there was a personality clash between herself and Lakela Kaunda, the deputy director general in the presidency.

Magwenya, whose career includes periods with Reuters Television, Worldwide Television News, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and as senior manager for media relations at Standard Bank, has had to speak on behalf of Zuma during a tumultuous year for the president.

Besides briefing the media on Zuma's foreign engagement programme, he has had to deal with curve-balls like the British media's perception of Zuma's polygamy, and reports on Zuma having a baby girl with a woman to whom he is not married.


These elicited debate not only over Zuma's fidelity, but his approach to "unprotected" sex in the face of the government's HIV/Aids awareness campaign.

Magwenya has also had to manage a furore over Zuma's late declaration of his assets, which was explained as being partly due to the size of his family.

ANC spokesperson Brian Sokhutu disappeared from the radar for a few weeks for making similar comments without first consulting the ANC.

Some of Magwenya's predecessors in that office include Parks Mankahlana, who admitted to lying about former president Nelson Mandela's wedding to Graca Machel; Bheki Khumalo, who now speaks for the energy department; and Mukoni Ratshitanga.