Tito Mboweni defends controversial appointment of disgraced journalist Ranjeni Munusamy
Johannesburg - Finance minister Tito Mboweni has defended the controversial appointment of disgraced former Sunday Times political journalist, Ranjeni Munusamy, to the Treasury office.
In a statement on Wednesday, the ministry of finance said it was “the prerogative of the minister who he appoints to his team as per the prescripts of the ministerial handbook”.
The sharp criticism aimed at the minister started on Tuesday evening when he introduced his speech-writing team on Twitter.
Among the seven-member team was Munusamy, who in September last year was placed on special leave by the then-Tiso Black Star media group (now Arena Holdings) after she was implicated in crime-intelligence slush fund abuse during the time of now imprisoned former crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli.
The core MTBPS speech drafting Team meeting today, October 20, 2020. to work on how to frame the speech.This is how it works: based on the Cabinet budget fiscal framework,different teams in the National Treasury write chapters in the big document,the core team drafts the speech. pic.twitter.com/u92RuYXeNq— Tito Mboweni (@tito_mboweni) October 20, 2020
Colonel Kobus Roelofse, a police investigator, told the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture that she unduly benefited from the rampant abuse of the crime-intelligence slush fund.
Roelofse was investigating the abuse when he got information that, around 2008, Munusamy ran into financial difficulties. As a result, money from the fund was used to pay off a vehicle debt of R143 621.78.
Munusamy went on to be the head of communications in Blade Nzimande’s higher education office.
Attempts by Independent Media to get Mboweni to justify his decision yielded no results as he ignored written questions sent to him. Munusamy herself ignored requests to comment.
But that did not stop the EFF from issuing a statement, urging him to rescind the decision or else action would be taken to force his hand.
“We demand that the Minister of Finance must immediately discontinue any contractual and employment relationship with Ranjeni Munusamy, until the, thus far solid and believable, allegations have been cleared beyond any reasonable doubt. We give the minister a period of seven days to discontinue the employment of Ranjeni Munusamy or we will approach the relevant authorities and institutions to do it on his behalf,” the party said yesterday.
It is believed that Munusamy was set to be appointed head of Communication at Treasury on December 1st.
Political analyst Thabani Khumalo said Munusamy’s decision not to cross-examine her accuser at the Zondo commission was because she knew she would be further exposed.
“For someone like Mboweni whom we thought is against corruption and was brought to the government to revive the culture of ethical leadership, it was a big mistake to include Ranjeni in his team. That has dented his image as Mboweni and it also raises questions about his commitment to the fight against corruption. He must do one thing; apologise to the nation and withdraw Ranjeni from his team,” Khumalo said.
Former Gauteng Premier Mbhazima Shilowa has also accused Munusamy of saying she was Mboweni’s envoy. Shilowa went to Twitter to say he heard about Munusamy’s appointment at Treasury in the Greater Tzaneen Municipality where she would stand in for Mboweni. “He (Mboweni) said there’s nothing wrong when I asked him in May 2020.”