Convicted criminal appointed to MDDA board, Zuma admits

2016-04-13 20:17
Each new week seems to bring another scandal around President Jacob Zuma. (Photo: GCIS)

Each new week seems to bring another scandal around President Jacob Zuma. (Photo: GCIS)

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Cape Town – President Jacob Zuma has admitted to appointing a convicted criminal to the Media Development and Diversity Agency board on the advice of the National Assembly, he has said in response to a written question.

Thami Ntenteni was elected to the MDDA board in June 2015, after the National Assembly recommended three names to fill the vacancies.

But board chairperson Phelisa Nkomo told News24 on Wednesday that Ntenteni had not participated in the board since his appointment after questions were raised about his suitability.

Replying to a written parliamentary question from the DA's Phumzile van Damme, Zuma said he had appointed Ntenteni after a recommendation from the National Assembly.

The reply was published in February and sent out on Tuesday.

"The security screening that we undertook later revealed that he was convicted of culpable homicide in 1998. Following the results of the security screening I requested the National Assembly on 07 December 2015 to initiate a process of checking if Mr Ntenteni is suitable to be a member of the board of the MDDA."

He said he would be guided by the outcome of the parliamentary process on the matter.

'Technically not part of the board'

Nkomo insisted Ntenteni was currently not part of the board.

"He is technically not part of the board. The president is waiting for a way forward from Parliament," she said.

Ntenteni was selected as a board member after a two-day interview process in March 2015 by the communications sub-committee in Parliament. 

Ntenteni's name is no longer on the MDDA's website as a board member.

Last year, Ntenteni also made the shortlist for the Icasa board after a gruelling interview process.

The DA objected to a report including him as a candidate, and it was then referred back to the committee.

After the State Security Agency then did further security checks on Ntenteni, he was removed from this recommended list of candidates.

DA MP Veronica van Dyk said on Wednesday the matter should be brought to the communications committee urgently.

She said since the first questions were raised about Ntenteni, the committee had no feedback.

But since the president has raised the issue, it would have to be looked at, she said.

Van Wyk said the committee had not heard whether Ntenteni had resigned or was just dormant, and clarity was needed on that.

In his reply, Zuma also reiterated his reasons for firing former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene.

He said decisions made on the Cabinet were always with the best of intentions.

"I have publicly stated on several occasions that South Africa nominated Mr Nhlanhla Nene for the position of head of the African Regional Centre of the New Development Bank, also known as the Brics Bank.

"Processes to make an appointment to that position are under way under the aegis of the New Development Bank in Shanghai, China."

Nene, however, has since said he would be taking a post in the private sector.

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