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Muthambi denies nepotism claims

MPs asked her to respond to reports that she hired 27 people, some close family and friends. Muthambi says 9 relatives working in her office met all the criteria for employment.

FILE: Minister Faith Muthambi. Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN - - Minister Faith Muthambi has responded to allegations of nepotism in Parliament on Wednesday by confirming to lawmakers that nine relatives were hired to work in her office.

But the Public Service and Administration Minister insists it was her prerogative to employ them and so she did nothing wrong.

Members of Parliament (MPs) had asked her to respond to media reports that she hired 27 people, some close family and friends, to her support staff without following proper processes.

It has been a month since the Public Service and Administration Committee said it wanted answers from Muthambi.

They got the chance on Tuesday.

Muthambi says the nine relatives working in her office met all the criteria for employment.

“Out of the people I’ve appointed, nine of them are my family and South Africans who deserved to be hired.”

She added that: “The reason why I’m doing what I’m doing now is because I’ve got a competent team that’s assisting and it's the members in my private office and I’ve got the prerogative as to who I hire in my private office.”

The department’s Director-General Mashwahle Diphofa explained his reading of the regulations by telling MPs that there was no need to advertise those positions because they were not permanent employees.

“The regulation says the appointments in the Office of the Minister and the Office of the Deputy Minister can be done without following the process.”

But opposition MPs weren’t convinced.

DA parliamentarian Yusuf Cassim said: “Is it being denied that had they not had those connections, they wouldn’t have been deployed?”

The minister also has told MPs she did nothing wrong by flying 30 people to Cape Town to attend her budget vote speech at the taxpayer’s expense.

She told the committee, the ministerial handbook allowed her certain benefits.

“In particular, clause 9.11 and I’ve given you the copy of the ministerial handbook - that indicates that there are 30 tickets.

Media reports claimed she spent nearly R500,000 on the jaunt in May.

When opposition MPs wanted to know how much was spent on accommodation and other expenses, the minister said she would respond in writing.

The committee’s packed schedule left little room to delve deeper into the issue.

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