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Who is Faith Muthambi?

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The woman who will head up the new, reconfigured, communications ministry is no stranger to controversy, having previously been accused of nepotism and corruption while a municipal manager.

Faith Muthambi is taking over a ministry that has been severally trimmed after president Jacob Zuma last night split the Department of Communications into two, also creating a Ministry of Telecommunications and Postal Services to handle the "fast-growing" telecoms sector, which he said was worth R180 billion in 2012.

Muthambi, a relative newcomer to the sector, will be in charge of a department that will handle the Independent Communications Authority of SA, the SABC, Government Communication and Information Systems, Brand SA, and the Media Development and Diversity Agency.

Zuma also said the reconfigured ministry will be "responsible for overarching communication policy and strategy, information dissemination and publicity, as well as the branding of the country abroad".

Muthambi hails from Limpopo and studied at the University of Venda, where she did a BProc degree. She was previously municipal manager of Makhado and manager of labour relations in the Limpopo premier's office, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Discredited

The new minister has been a member of Parliament since April 2009, and has served on the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Communications. Muthambi's time at Makhado was reportedly mired in controversy and the South African Municipal Workers Union accused her of nepotism and corruption on several occasions, leading to her five-month suspension some years ago.

Muthambi also reportedly took Zoutnet Publishers to court over alleged defamation, a case that was struck off the North Gauteng High Court in 2010.

Democratic Alliance shadow minister of communications Marian Shinn notes Muthambi has sound ICT knowledge and will be a good minister.

ICT veteran Adrian Schofield notes Muthambi was discredited as a municipal manager and questions how she can be expected to command respect as a senior leader of this country's government.

Dominic Cull, owner of Ellipsis Regulatory Solutions, notes he is not familiar with Muthambi, so cannot provide any insight into her abilities, although he is disheartened the shuffle has happened when it seemed the department was making progress under Yunus Carrim.

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