Pule investigation update

The Public Protector is still gathering information in its investigation into a potential conflict of interest involving communications minister Dina Pule, in hosting the ICT Indaba held in June.

A Sunday Times article revealed that the Department of Communications (DoC) spent R102 million on its ICT Indaba held at the Cape Town Convention Centre from 4 to 7 June 2012.

The paper reported that R25.7 million raised by sponsors for the event could not be accounted for, and it was alleged that Phosane Mngqibisa, who was romantically linked to Pule, withdrew millions in fees allocated for the event.

On 10 September, the DA, through its shadow minister of Communications Marian Shinn, received confirmation that the Public Protector had decided to investigate Pule under the Public Protector Act.

“We need to know whether the minister abused her position of authority over companies in the ICT industry to enrich a close personal friend,” Shinn said.

In a brief statement to BusinessTech, Kgalalelo Masibi, spokesperson for the Public Protector said: “The investigation is still underway and it is still at information gathering stage.”

It was reported in September by several media publications that, according to the law, the Public Protector must finish her investigation within a month.

In a statement released by the DoC on 12 September 2012, the department said that the minister welcomed the Public Protector’s decision.

“The Minister has instructed her staff to cooperate fully with the Public Protector, as they have done when they were dealing with the Office of the Auditor General.”

Prior to that, in August, the DoC released a statement saying that there was no wrongdoing on the part of the minister or the conference organisers.

However, 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.

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Pule investigation update