On Sunday, South African taxpayers had to stomach the news that they footed the bill for Competitions Commissioner Shan Ramburuth’s sexual entertainment. Shan Ramburuth is one of the most powerful people on the continent according to Africa Report. Ramburuth, who was instrumental in concluding mergers with Walmart and Massmart, played an important role in the inquiries into unfavourable anti-competitive practices within the construction industry. It has emerged that two years ago, Ramburuth ran a bill of more than R 120 000 visiting adult websites.
The Competitions Commission reports to the Ministry of Economic Development. It is alleged that the commission paid Ramburuth’s bill after he abused the modem that was allocated to him for work-related purposes. This preceded the Ministry of Economic Development’s decision to initiate an investigation into the ridiculously high bill. Ramburuth is not entirely certain that the R 120 000 could have been as a result of frequenting adult websites. A report by Paul O’Sullivan and Associates states that Ramburuth was a regular visitor to 25 pornographic sites. Ramburuth insists that he used his computer for work and made a mistake when he did not log off the internet for an extended period.
Ramburuth had more to worry about than just the data bill; his deputy was not impressed with his management style. Tembinkosi Bonakele, who is now on the SABC board, complained to the Economic Development Minister, Ebrahim Patel about the way Ramburuth treats staff. Independent Online quoted Ramburuth: “The investigation began when Tembinkosi complained to the minister about my management style, saying I treated staff badly. The minister then began an investigation to decide whether to pursue the case or not.”
On behalf of the Economic Development Ministry, spokesman Manelisi Wolela confirmed that the commissioner had opted to resign and that a replacement for Ramburuth would be announced this week. He said: “Earlier this week, Ramburuth resigned as commissioner and as an employee of the Competition Commission.” Wolela added that the resignation would be effective from Monday 21 October. Ramburuth offered to pay back the money.
A Competitions Commissioner who is not drawn to expensive pornographic websites will be encouraging to South African taxpayers.