Controversial former newspaper editor Vusi Mona has been appointed to head President Jacob Zuma’s communications office, writes Nkululeko Ncana in The Times.

The presidency yesterday announced that Mona had been appointed deputy director-general responsible for communications. Former broadcaster Vincent Magwenya will take over from Thabo Masebe as presidential spokesman.

Mona was editor of City Press. He was ousted after, among other things, publishing a story in which it was claimed that the then national director of public prosecutions, Bulelani Ngcuka, had been an apartheid-era spy for the government. The claim was found to be untrue.

Mona was spokesman for Rhema church leader Ray McCauley. He is believed to have played a central role in Zuma’s controversial visit to the church during his election campaign in April.

Mona started his new job on Monday. He said he would meet Zuma for the first time when the president returned from the G8 summit next week.

“As you can imagine, the president is currently working on a tight schedule, but while I still wait to see him I will be [familiarising] myself in the priorities that have been outlined, and finding the best possible way in formulating and delivering the president’s message to the people,” he said.

Mona said that his appointment “still gives me butterflies in my stomach” but his anxiety had been “lessened” by the “capable team of people” that the president has appointed.

Magwenya, who also started in his new job on Monday, told The Times that he felt “privileged” to work with Zuma.

His primary task, he said, would be to open channels of communication between Zuma and the public.

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