Communications minister Dina Pule has rejected allegations of tender corruption “with contempt”.
The minister was again the focus in several Sunday papers amid continued problems faced by state broadcaster, the SABC.
In an interview with John Robbie on Talk Radio 702 last week, Pule was questioned over allegations of corruption involving her partner Phosane Mngqibisa.
In February, The Sunday Times reported that Mngqibisa was paid R6-million in management fees for the 2012 ICT Indaba.
The report further suggests that the conference organisers were forced by the Department of Communications (DoC) to hire Mngqibisa.
The Sunday Times cited two forensic documents which showed that Mngqibisa was not really involved in the organisation of the event, despite being paid R6-million.
Pule said: “I want to reject this with the contempt it deserves. It’s very unfortunate that people will run stories about me personally, which are very wrong…totally.”
Pule complained that she did not have a platform to defend herself, “because they (media) have a platform, and they continue to run the same story…which is a lie”.
However, the minister said that she would have her opportunity to respond at some point at the ethics committee in Parliament.
She noted that the case was currently with the Public Protector. “I am actually cooperating with the Public Protector and with Parliament. But I want to reject it, it’s a lie,” Pule said.
The minister stressed that in the process of tenders, she did not even sit on any committee in government which processed tenders.
“They are committees where the minister doesn’t even sit. I can’t at the end when they say they have appointed so and so to do this…I don’t even know how they do this,” Pule said.
Pule said she would await the outcomes of the public protector and ethics committee processes before deciding on what action to take.
“At the end of it I will take a decision, because I don’t think it is right what they have done….they have pushed me to a point where I must come and defend myself, and from what? From nonsense,” Pule said.
She said she would respect government’s processes before defending herself publically, or taking legal action. “I am waiting for a moment where I can do that,” she said.
Calls for the axe
The DA on Sunday (17 March 2013) again called for the minister to be sacked.
“The latest revelations in the on-going saga of communications minister Dina Pule’s cronyism and self-enrichment leaves President Zuma with no other option but to fire her. The President can no longer sit back and make a mockery of the South African public by allowing Minister Pule to stay in Cabinet.”
The DA noted the article in the Sunday Independent regarding Pule’s calls for Gugu Duda to be CFO of the SABC.
Duda was suspended in September 2012 for signing off a R3-million sponsorship deal for the now-controversial ICT Indaba which reportedly benefited Mngqibisa.
“This should be the last straw in what has been the disastrous tenure of Minister Pule, which has included:
- The ICT Indaba scandal involving the Minister’s boyfriend;
- Awarding Sentech – and indirectly Nagravision – the contract to install the control system in the locally assembled set-top boxes to further enrich her boyfriend, at the expense of an existing agreement with e-TV and SABC. The courts found Minister Pule’s action unlawful;
- The killing of the Telkom-KT Corporation deal that promised to set Telkom on a path to technological excellence and financial growth;
- The disruption of Telkom’s AGM and, through her last minute changes to the board elections, temporarily crippled its board’s operations; and
- Undue interference in the SABC board’s appointment processes of SABC executives.
“The minister’s 16 months in office have been characterised by her putting her own closed, crony circles above the best interests of the ICT sector.
“It is high time that she be shown the door and that it be done without any delay. South Africans cannot be expected to wait any longer while this looting of her department continues.”