Faith Muthambi: Ministry’s not all talk

2014-06-01 15:00

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Communications Minister Faith Muthambi has her work cut for her in the reconfigured ­communications portfolio.

Her critics have suggested that the ­department is now, in essence, President Jacob ­Zuma’s “propaganda” hub.

Coordinator of the Committee to Protect Journalists Sue Valentine has expressed concern that putting the SABC ­under the new department, along with entities responsible for public relations like Brand SA and the Government ­Communication and Information System, will compromise the public broadcaster.

Zuma himself has suggested that the department will be in charge of “overarching communication policy and strategy, information dissemination and publicity, as well as the branding of the country abroad”.

So far, Muthambi’s experience with communications comes from her stint in Parliament as a member of the ­portfolio committee on communications.

She also served on the ill-fated ad hoc committee that was appointed to look into the report of the Public Protector on Nkandla in April.

This suggests that she was one of the trusted MPs of the governing party.

Asked what her first order of business would be as minister, Muthambi said she would be meeting her telecommunications counterpart, Siyabonga Cwele, about their functions.

This will include deciding which state-owned institutions they have to split or scrap.

She will also meet the chairpersons of the ­institutions under her portfolio to get a sense of the issues facing them.

Muthambi has an academic background in law and public management and lists reading as a hobby. She obtained her BProc degree from the University of Venda.

Her background information on the ANC’s website shows that she has been active in the party mainly in Limpopo’s Vhembe region.

The highest political position she has attained is that of serving in the provincial leadership of the ANC Women’s League.

Very little is known about Muthambi before she went to Parliament in 2009 except that she had a torrid time as ­municipal manager of the Makhado Local ­Municipality in Limpopo.

According to a local newspaper, the Zoutpansberger, she briefly faced fraud charges for the sale of a municipal vehicle in 2005. The charges were later withdrawn in the Makhado District Court.

A year later, according to the newspaper, Muthambi ­received written death threats from unknown sources.

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