3 February 2013

South Africa: Public Protector and Ethics Committee Must Expedite Pule Probe

press release

The Sunday Times has today revealed that Phosane Mngqibisa, partner of Communications Minister Dina Pule, received R6 million in management fees for the ICT Indaba held last year - yet sources within the Communications department claim that Mr Mngqibisa had hardly any involvement in the management of the event.

This latest evidence arises from an internal investigation for MTN by law firm Werksmans, and an affidavit by conference organiser Carol Bouwer to Parliament's ethics committee.

It is becoming increasingly evident that Minister Pule not only put pressure on a number of telecoms companies to sponsor the Indaba, but used undue influence to ensure that her partner was appointed in a management role, which enabled him to withdraw money from the main organiser's bank account.

In September last year, I received confirmation from the Public Protector that her office would investigate the possible conflict of interest of Minister Pule's involvement in the ICT Indaba. In light of this latest evidence, I will request the Public Protector to expedite the investigation and make her report public as soon as possible.

Parliament's Ethics and Members' Interest Committee has also been investigating Minister Pule's conduct and I will be following up with the chairperson of the Committee to determine the progress of the investigation and when it will be made public.

It is becoming increasingly evident that the Minister may have abused her position of authority over companies in the ICT industry to enrich a close personal friend. If investigations confirm that this was indeed the case, Minister Pule must be made to face the consequences.

Both the public and companies that contribute to government initiatives such as the Indaba need to be reassured that this type of behaviour will not be tolerated

Marian Shinn, Shadow Minister of Communications

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