Cape Town - Faith Muthambi couldn't escape reminders of her troubled tenure as communications minister when her first budget for her new department, Public Service and Administration, was debated.
During her budget speech, Muthambi spent a lot of time speaking on curbing corruption and avoiding conflicts of interest. She said new regulations were adopted that didn't allow public servants to do business with the state and that the deadline for either leaving the business or the state's employ was January 31 this year.
Currently, a process was underway to assess whether everybody who should have resigned, had done so. She also said last week Friday the anti-corruption forum had been revived.
African National Congress MP Dr Makhosi Khoza, who is also chairperson of the portfolio committee on public service and administration, highlighted the importance of innovation.
She said she was concerned that only R34 million was budgeted for the centre of public service innovation.
"If we're not going to invest in innovation, we're going to find ourselves left out again [of the industrial revolution's latest stage]," she said.
She also said the committee wasn't happy with the budget for the public service commission. She said the department was faced with dealing with poor performance and the "serious challenge" of corruption.
"I implore you not to cripple the PSC with a lack of funds," said Khoza.
When she got up to address the house, there was applause from the DA benches, and when she finished, a grinning DA chief whip John Steenhuisen applauded her.
Democratic Alliance MP Desiree van der Walt said Wednesday marked the 55th day that Muthambi was in her new position, but she is yet to attend the portfolio committee.
"You were, however, very quick to start spending money by hosting two Imbizos – one on your 29th day in office and a second on your 35th day in office, at an estimated R1.3 million," said Van der Walt.
"You were even quicker to start building your personal empire. I am not sure if you have seen this document referred to as the Ministerial Handbook with specific reference to Chapter 8 before? It states that you are allowed a total of 10 posts in your Private Office Staff Compliment, not 22.
However, Minister, you have never been one to adhere to rules. As you have shown time after time, you have an utter disregard for your oath of office and the Executive Ethics Code."
Van der Walt expressed her concern over the public service wage bill - one of the government’s biggest expenditure items - because according to Van der Walt Muthambi "couldn't even run a yard sale".
The Economic Freedom Fighter's Nazier Paulsen came in singing. He said President Jacob Zuma apparently heeded the late singer George Michael's advice.
'Gotta have faith'
"You gotta have faith, faith, faith, you gotta have faith," Paulsen sang, much to Muthambi's mirth.
He said this could be the only reason for her appointment, as she left the communications portfolio a "sorry mess" and a "fantastic catastrophe".
"Everywhere you go, you leave a trail of destruction," he said.
DA MP Zelda Jongbloed said,"It is absolutely scandalous that Number One did not dump you in his midnight Cabinet reshuffle."
The ANC objected to her reference to Prersident Jacob Zuma as "Number One". Jongbloed at first said "honourable Number One", but then withdrew.
She referred to the ad hoc committee which investigated the SABC board, and which made damning findings against Muthambi. This committee's report was adopted by parliament and recommended that Zuma reconsiders her position as minister of communications.
"Why is this woman still employed as a minister in this Cabinet?" said Jongbloed.
Another reminder of Muthambi's time as communications minister was sitting in the public gallery in a red coat - disgraced former SABC board chairperson Ellen Tshabalala.
She resigned after the portfolio committee on communications found that she had lied about her qualifications. It is unclear in what capacity she attended the budget debate.
The debate ended in acrimony when ANC MP Mervyn Dirks called black DA MP's "rent-a-darkies".
He accused the opposition of political grandstanding, upon which Van der Walt asked him why he wanted to join the DA.
A screaming match ensued, in which he uttered the phrase.
He at first denied that he had done so. Opposition MP's took umbrage with his utterance and after the sitting Inkatha Freedom Party chief whip, a visibly unimpressed Narend Singh, said he will raise the matter with the Speaker.