Minister of Communications, Dina Pule, said in a press statement today that she has not yet received notification from the Public Protector that her office is investigating a potential conflict of interest involving the Minister in relation to the hosting of the ICT Indaba in Cape Town during June 2012.
However, Pule said that she welcomes the Public Protector’s decision.
The investigation was confirmed in a letter to shadow minister of communications, Marian Shinn, following numerous reports by the Sunday Times and the DA itself that money allocated to the ICT Indaba were handled “improperly”.
According to Pule, she 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.
“Cleared of wrongdoing”
On 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.
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 Phosane Mngqibisa, her alleged romantic interest, benefited 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.
Public protector probe
In the letter addressed to Shinn, public protector, Thuli Madonsela, apologised for the delayed response to the DA’s query, saying further that she will proceed with an investigation into the matter.
“As you may be aware, the Auditor General undertook to look into, and has indeed looked into, the matter,” she wrote.
“He has since come back to me through a meeting with him on 28/07/2012 and his office this morning. Based on the briefing I have received, which has included the scope and limitation of the audit process, I have decided to proceed with the investigation.”
Speaking about the investigation, the DA said that it will “hopefully” lift the lid on the extent of Dina Pule’s knowledge and influence over the organisation of the ICT Indaba, as well as the appointment of Mr. Mngqibisa as an associate to Carol Bouwer for the event, “and any financial gain he may have made from event sponsors.”
“We need to know whether the minister abused her position of authority over companies in the ICT industry to enrich a close personal friend,” the DA said.
Pule said that she is convinced that there is no wrongdoing on her part as the report of the Auditor General has found.