On 22 April 2013, Pule called a press conference and told reporters that a series of articles by the The Sunday Times formed part of a highly sophisticated campaign against her.
She alleged that business people linked to the newspaper had a vested interest in trying to secure a multi-billion rand set-top-box tender and were willing to do anything to get it.
While Pule refused to mention the names of the so-called conspiritors, she openly attacked the journalists who had been covering the stories, namely, Stephan Hofstatter, Rob Rose and Mzilikazi wa Afrika.
The three journalists have co-authored an article in the paper, hitting back at the minister, saying that, instead of refuting the allegations made against her, she dedicated 90 minutes to “a desperate attempt at character assassination against the journalists who wrote the article”.
“The story she told was an equal mix of conspiracy and fiction,” the journalists said.
There was an unrequited love interest(a relative of journalist Mzilikazi wa Afrika who was, the minister’s story went, spurned by Pule); intercepted or “overheard” conversations of plots to plant spies in Pule’s office; and secret mettings set up by powerful mandarins representing shadowy business interests intent on toppling the president.
The Sunday Times journalists echoed the sentiment felt by many other editors and journalists in media after the 1.5 hour conference: the minister is out of touch with reality.
The journalists again called for minister Pule to provide proof of her claims, noting that they were in possession of signed documents, and numerous detailed reports that supported theirs.
They pointed to the well-reported paper trail outlining her “bullying” tactics at the SABC; misuse of funds from the ICT Indaba; as well as the nature of the relationship between her and “comrade” Phosane Mngqibisa – which they refer to as her “boyfriend”.
“Long after the press conference had ended, the disconcerting fact remains that the communications ministry is being run by somebody who clearly seems to treat off-the-wall conspiracies as fact,” the Sunday Times journalists wrote.
“We expect our cabinet ministers to run their portfolios effectively – not make spectacles of themselves at taxpayers’ expense.”