Johannesburg - The ANC on Monday staunchly defended the appointment of President Jacob Zuma’s daughter Thuthukile to a powerful R1-million-a-year position - despite the fact that, at the age of 25, she has just a few months of work experience within government.
In an interview on Monday morning on Talk Radio 702, Public Service and Administration Minister Collins Chabane said that there was nothing untoward about the appointment of someone with such a lack of experience.
While responding to a question about whether it was laughable that a position that generally asked for at least five to 10 years experience was handed to Thuthukile, Chabane said that “different mechanisms” were used to bring on ministerial staff.
He said no rules had been broken by making such an appointment, and legally speaking, the telecommunications minister, Siyabonga Cwele, could appoint whomever he likes.
Chabane added that there were others in such positions who also had minimal experience in government, and had also arrived from different fields.
According to Chabane, the amount of money being paid to the 25-year-old was a moral issue, rather than a legal one.
Zuma’s daughter was recently promoted to chief-of-staff in the Ministry of Telecommunications and Postal Services, a massive jump from her previous - and shortly held - position as a public liaison officer.
And according to the Mail & Guardian newspaper, she’s set to earn almost R1m a year in the new job, raising questions of nepotism in the Department of Telecommunications.
This position is seen as particularly powerful, with the incumbent responsible for management of staff, and the office’s budget in the ministry.
Cwele’s office also sent out a statement defending the appointment of the youngest head of a minister’s office at the weekend.
Spokesman Siya Qoza said: “Thuthukile Zuma’s appointment… is consistent with the rules and regulations governing the appointment of people in government ministries.”
He contends Thuthukile’s genealogy was never considered in her applications, simply her capacity to do the job and her qualifications. Thuthukile received an Honours in anthropology in 2012.
However, the Mail & Guardian reported the position was never advertised.
Qoza said the department’s human resource management unit had assured the minister there had been no complaints about her appointment.
Meanwhile, political pressure from opposition parties for answers on the appointment has also been significant, with DA spokesman Marius Redelinghuys saying the party demands clarity.
He said the party would pursue the matter through Parliament to discover the full extent of the appointment process.