South Africa’s Parliament says that the hearing into allegations brought against Communications Minister, Dina Pule, being conducted by the Ethics Committee is ongoing, with the process expected to take some time still.
Parliament’s joint committee on ethics and members’ interests appointed a nine-member panel in March to investigate whether Pule declared her relationship with businessman Phosane Mngqibisa to Parliament, and whether he made any financial gains through the alleged romance.
Mngqibisa earned millions from co-ordinating the 2012 ICT Indaba, organised by Pule’s department.
Parliament tweeted on Wednesday (8 May) that its hearing into allegations against minister Pule is continuing.
Parlimant said that since there are personal matters under consideration, the committee is bound by the constitution and the joint rules of parliament to hold the hearing in a closed session.
It noted that several additional people are scheduled to appear and the committee may need to recall others.
“Once the hearing has been completed, the panel will prepare a report. The report will be for consideration by the full Joint Committee on Ethics and Members’ Interests, together with recommendations,” Parliament tweeted.
“The report will also be tabled in the House and will contain a summary of facts established, a finding and reasons for the finding.”
“The focus of the hearing is the proper declaration of interests and the ethical conduct of a Member of Parliament,” it said.
Pule said in a press briefing on 22 April 2013, that a recent series of damaging reports published in the Sunday Times over the last 10 months are part of a “sophisticated plot” to blackmail her.
The reason for the blackmail, Pule alleged, is the multi-billion Rand tender “and related issues” for the set-top boxes needed for South Africa’s migration from analogue to digital television.
According to Pule, the intention was to force her to make decisions that favour the interests of certain powerful people and organisations.
Pule has also rejected claims that she is romantically linked to Mngqibisa. In a recent radio interview, the minister said:
“I know him as a comrade, but I have nothing to do with him, and I am surprised that the Sunday Times wants me to take responsibility for activities of people that are happening outside, private people that I don’t know, and I have to say I know him. And they don’t bring a shred of evidence.”
City Press on Sunday (28 April) reported that soccer boss Jomo Sono is at the centre of the alleged blackmail campaign against Pule.
The newspaper alleged Sono’s company, Jomo Sono Investments, was one of 36 companies in the running for a R2.5 billion tender to be awarded by Pule’s department.