#StateCaptureInquiry: You will call me honourable - Muthambi to Williams

2018-08-31 16:25
Phumla Williams.  (City Press, file)

Phumla Williams. (City Press, file)

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Former communications minister Faith Muthambi demanded that the acting director general at the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS), Phumla Williams, call her "honourable".

Muthambi wrote to Williams complaining that the seasoned public official had failed to address her as "honourable", that her letters had spelling errors and she used the wrong letterheads in their communications.

This emerged at the commission of inquiry into state capture on Friday as Williams detailed her "strained" relationship with Muthambi.

LIVE: State capture expert witnesses from US testifying at #StateCaptureInquiry

The complaints came just a month after Muthambi's appointment following the 2014 elections.

Williams said she was shocked because Muthambi had been full of praise for her and was keen to fast track her filling the acting director general post.

In 2014, the GCIS was moved from the Presidency and was placed under the Department of Communications.

READ #StateCaptureInquiry: Manyi tried to influence my testimony - Phumla Williams

In a letter to Williams dated June 18, 2014, the former minister expressed how unhappy she was with the service Williams was providing to her department.

Part of the letter reads: "It seems you have no desire to implement the changes I require.

"You have no capacity to implement changes I require or take input seriously - I want to know how you will remedy this situation for me to take appropriate action in this regard," parts of the letter stated.

READ #StateCaptureInquiry: Guptas were surprised how easy it was to get cash from government - Maseko

Acting role withdrawn while on leave

Williams told the commission that Muthambi wanted to be addressed as "honourable", in any circumstance. However, she learnt afterward that ministers cannot demand to be addressed as such outside of Parliament.

"Protocol says minister cannot be called honourable outside Parliament - there was nothing wrong I was doing," she said.

Williams also told the commission that while she was on leave, Muthambi started making changes at the GCIS.

She said she was subsequently informed that her acting director general role had been withdrawn while she was on leave.

"It may sound funny, but that's how painful it was. You are on leave, and you come back, and you find your salary has been adjusted. You are then told you are owing... I remember it was R35 000 that had been paid to you while you were on leave, and you have to pay it back. One would have expected that there would have been a bit of discussion," she said.

She said Muthambi had initially told her that she had been acting in the position.

Williams said the position was then advertised and when she applied she received a call from the head of human resources informing her that interviews had been cancelled indefinitely.

She also said Muthambi wanted Gift Buthelezi, who was appointed deputy director general at the communications department, to be involved in the work of the GCIS with no paper trail.

"[The] minister wanted me to do an illegal thing [by] taking someone from one department to another without paperwork," she said.

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Read more on:    faith muthambi  |  state capture inquiry  |  corruption

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