Minister of Communications, Dina Pule, said at a last-minute press briefing on Monday (22 April 2013), that the 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 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.
“We have witnessed an extraordinary call by a newspaper that is supposed to be objective to get the president to fire me,” Pule said.
Allegations of mismanagement, cronyism and corruption
Over the last years numerous media reports fingered Pule and her alleged boyfriend Phosane Mngqibisa in cronyism, self-enrichment and mismanagement. These reports include:
- 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;
- Undue interference in the SABC board’s appointment processes of SABC executives;
- The appointment of recruitment firm appointing Mindworx without a bidding process;
- The appointment of cronies of her boyfriend, Phosane Mngqibisa, to the boards of key parastatals.
These reports ultimately led to investigations into Pule.
Parliament is set to investigate the ethical conduct of Pule in a hearing this week. Media reports suggest that Parliament’s ethics committee had to work through 2,000 pages of evidence against Pule.
The DA also wants the police to investigate Pule after it laid criminal charges against the Minister of Communications at the Cape Town Central police station on 10 April 2013.
Pule denied all the allegations, and also rejected claims that she is romantically linked to Phosane Mngqibisa.
“Sunday Times has crossed the line”
She went on to confirm that she will appear as directed before the ethics committee of Parliament on 2 and 3 May 2013.
“I have not sought to derail these processes in any way,” Pule said, adding that she remains confident that she will be vindicated by the outcomes of these formal processes.
Pule appealed to the “handlers of the Sunday Times” to let these processes run their course and not continue publishing their damaging reports.
“They have not provided any shred of evidence that I have broken the law,” Pule said. “They have crossed the line.”