/ 20 October 2013

Minister appoints acting Competition Commission head

Minister Appoints Acting Competition Commission Head

Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel appointed Thembinkosi Bonakele as the new acting competition commissioner on Sunday, the department said.

Spokesperson Manelisi Wolela said Bonakele was appointed with effect from October 21, for a period of six month.

"Minister Patel's announcement follows the resignation of Shan Ramburuth as competition commissioner following an investigation undertaken into his fitness to hold office," Wolela said.

According to an IOL reporting, Wolela confirmed on Saturday that Patel accepted Ramburuth’s resignation. It added: “The minister is expected to issue a statement [on Sunday] on the appointment of an acting competition commissioner,” Wolela said.

Bonakele had served as deputy commissioner of the Competition Commission and worked in all key divisions of the Competition Commission over the past nine years.

Ramburuth denies resigning
"The Competition Commission is a vital institution in our efforts to build a dynamic economy and it has a skilled and capable staff that will ensure the commission continues to perform its statutory functions.

"Mr Bonakele brings expertise in the field of competition policy and extensive knowledge of the commission and his presence will help the commission during the period when a new commissioner will be identified and appointed," the statement said.

Earlier Ramburuth denied resigning in the wake of a pornography scandal, the Sunday Times reported.

According to the report, Ramburuth "spent an average of R150 000 an hour on a government sim card, some of it hardcore porn".

"As far as I'm concerned, I'm still talking to him [Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel] about it … I have in my discussions with him, discussed various options," Ramburuth told the newspaper.

"I would like to conclude that [discussion] with him before making any statement."

Wolela, however, said following complaints "relating to acts of misconduct", an investigation by Patel had ensued. "Earlier this week, Ramburuth resigned as commissioner and as an employee of the Competition Commission," he said.

Wolela said the resignation would take effect on October 21.

Bill amount
The Sunday Times referred to a forensic report by Paul O'Sullivan and Associates, which detailed how Ramburuth apparently visited 25 pornographic sites between August and November 2011. His data bill in October that year – while using a government issued sim card overseas – came to a total of R123 000.

"The single largest data usage was on October 15, when he spent 291 minutes (just less than five hours) on pornographic websites," said the newspaper. – Sapa; additional staff reporter