Mzwanele Manyi was introduced as the new director general of government communication and information systems (GCIS) before Themba Maseko had packed up his desk. This is according to the testimony delivered on Friday by acting GCIS head Phumla Williams at the commission of inquiry into state capture.
Williams recounted to the commission — headed by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo — how Maseko was removed from his position at the helm of GCIS in early 2011.
He was replaced by self-proclaimed Zuma loyalist Manyi that same day.
Williams said the staff at the GCIS headquarters reacted with shock to Maseko’s removal. Because her office was next door to Maseko, she tried to talk to him but found him with his head in his hands, slouched over his desk.
Maseko recounted his last day at GCIS on Thursday. He said he was not given a proper opportunity to bid farewell to his staff, saying there may have been an attempt to throw him a farewell party, but he had declined.
Maseko recounted how on January 31 2011, he had met with then minister in the presidency Collins Chabane who said he had received a phone call from then president Jacob Zuma asking to have Maseko redeployed.
Maseko told the commission that Chabane made it very clear he did not agree with the decision to remove him from his post at GCIS, but told Maseko he had to do “as his boss had instructed him”.
Zuma, who was out of the country at the time, is alleged to have said said that by the time he returned to South Africa he wanted Maseko out of GCIS.
Maseko’s testimony on Wednesday and Thursday detailed how he allegedly received a phone call from Zuma in 2010, asking him to aid the Gupta brothers with placing government advertisements in Gupta-owned The New Age newspaper.
Williams told the commission that she has never witnessed such a rapid transfer of a director general to the head of a department in all her years as a public servant. She has worked in government since 1994.
“It was completely a culture shock … It did impact on the morale of the staff,” Williams said of Maseko’s removal.
Shortly after Manyi’s appointment, he started to make changes to the media buying processes of GCIS, Williams said.