The Democratic Alliance (DA) has accused communications minister Dina Pule, of suffering from an “integrity deficit” in the wake of the controversy surrounding her role in hosting the ICT Indaba.
According to a recent article in the Sunday Times, a man with whom the minister is believed to be romantically linked, benefitted improperly from the event.
On Friday (3 August 2012), the Department of Communications (DoC) released a statement saying that there was no wrongdoing on the part of the minister or the conference organisers.
In June, the Sunday Times reported that the DoC spent R102 million on its ICT Indaba held at the Cape Town Convention Centre from 4 to 7 June 2012.
According to the Sunday Times, Phosane Mngqibisa, who is reportedly romantically linked to Pule, withdrew millions from a number of sponsorships of the event.
DA shadow minister of communications, Marian Shinn, said that the statement from the DoC only added to the smokescreen that minister Pule tried to create to deflect attention on whether Mngqibisa benefitted improperly from the Indaba.
“The Department’s statement goes to great lengths to emphasise the fact that the Auditor General’s (AG’s) investigation into the matter has cleared the Minister of any wrongdoing.
“The scope of the AG’s investigation, however, was limited to focus on the payment of R10 million from the Department of Communications to the ICT Indaba to ensure that due process was followed by the department,” Shinn said.
According to the DA, the R10 million spent by the DoC is, however, not central to the controversy surrounding the Minister’s role in hosting the Indaba. The party noted that reports continue to emerge of the minister’s potential conflict of interest in involving Mngqibisa, in organising the ICT Indaba. “There are now also reports of a “dossier of allegations”, compiled by DoC officials, linking the Minister to a web of nepotism in the department,” Shinn said.
The DA said that during its correspondence with the AG’s office, the party was informed by the AG’s corporate executive Alice Muller, that “a review of the role of the minister, the spending of funds by the event organiser and the basis on which money was contributed by other institutions were explicitly excluded from the scope”.
“We therefore reiterate our call to the Public Protector to respond to our request for an investigation under the Public Protector’s Act and for the Chairperson of Parliament’s Ethics Committee to accede to our request for an investigation. We will also ask the Public Protector’s office to follow up on reports of the “dossier of allegations” and to include information from this dossier in her investigations.
“Only a thorough and transparent investigation of the facts around the execution of the Indaba can clear the minister’s name. If, as minister Pule claims, she inherited the arrangement between Carol Bower and the Minister’s alleged love interest Mr Mngqibisa, alarm bells should have rung out about the potential for a conflict of interest and she should have taken steps to ensure Mr Mngqibisa did not benefit from the ICT Indaba.
“The Minister seems to suffer from an integrity deficit,” Shinn concluded.