Facebook musings stalk AG hopeful

If you aspire to be the country's next auditor general, you had best be careful what you post on Facebook. But the lesson might have come too late for candidate Avhashoni Ramikosi, a senior auditor at PwC.

Ramikosi was one of six who were interviewed by MPs this week for the position, which will become vacant when Terence Nombembe leaves at the end of November.

Ramikosi calmly stated his vision for the office at his interview on Wednesday and was unfazed by the presence of photographers, TV cameras and journalists in the interview room.

That was until the Democratic Alliance's John Steenhuisen said: "I had a look at your Facebook wall, and I see you have expressed in one post some quite strong political views. What would you do if you were chosen in order to establish the political independence of the office, given the environment in which you are going to be operating?"

On February 18, Ramikosi posted of his Facebook wall: "Agang South Africa has now been officially launched so what do South Africans say about this new political party particularly the black middle class to whom this is probably aimed at, are they excited or is this another wasted space just like Cope [Congress of the People] …"

For a moment, Ramikosi seemed rattled but he quickly composed himself and responded: "As an ordinary citizen, I'm quite involved in some of the political structures within my branch, based on the view that, if I look at things that are happening around us, if we sit back and fold our arms and let things just run, we run the risk that, in the next generation, there will be a gap in terms of leadership. We do need a lot of some of us to be involved in these structures to make sure we take our democracy to the next level."

Ramikosi said he would recuse himself from active political participation if he was appointed.

"I didn't know that one day I would come here and apply for a position which will conflict my political views. Actually, I was warned two days ago to take it down but you got there before I did."

MPs were impressed by the track record of Lily Zondo, a general manager at MTN.

ANC MP Koena Moloto, who said he had just googled Zondo, said she came across as "a person of high integrity" but was concerned about the possibility of her being sued relating to her role as a whistleblower at MTN.

Its chief corporate services officer, Robert Madzonga, was suspended after allegedly receiving funds paid to axed communications minister Dina Pule's boyfriend, Phosane Mngqibisa. Mngqibisa apparently received the funds for work undertaken at the ICT Indaba last year. Madzonga has threatened legal action against former MTN managing director Karel Pienaar, human resources director Themba Nyathi and Zondo for defamation.

Moloto asked: "What if they litigate in that case and manage to sue you successfully, would you step aside and not be the AG of South Africa?"

Zondo replied she would not do anything to embarrass the office, the country and most of all "myself and my family".

She worked in the office of the auditor general as a senior manager and was shortlisted for the position of attorney general in 2006.

Deputy auditor general Kimi Makwetu had MPs eating out of his hand. He has been Nombembe's deputy since August 2007.

MPs seemed impressed by the way Makwetu has run the office for the past six years.

Makwetu said he had an agreement with Nombembe that he, as a deputy and administrative head of the organisation, would "spend a lot of time in the kitchen", whereas Nombembe would be the face of the organisation.

"My responsibility was to look at developing the machinery of the institution so that it can continue to do what it was meant to do,"  he said.

The other candidates who were interviewed were Zaitun Bee Gaffair Shaik, Kaushik Patel and Josephine Naicker. Parliament invited only chartered accountants to apply for the job but among the 92 applicants were a welder, a receptionist, a petrol attendant, a call screener, security guards and a bartender. None of them had a qualification beyond a matric.

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