Pule says sorry, gets suspended

Disgraced former communications minister Dina Pule was reprimanded and suspended by Parliament on Tuesday for the scandal that saw her boyfriend benefit from state funding.

Speaker Max Sisulu told Pule she betrayed her oath of office and brought Parliament into disrepute, after the ANC moved for the adoption of a damning report by an ethics panel. This was unanimously supported by all parties.

“Your direct contravention of the provisions of section 96 (ii) of the Constitution by allowing your position to be used to improperly benefit your permanent companion shows indifference to our Constitution, which is unacceptable,” Sisulu told Pule.

He confirmed that Pule would be excluded from Parliamentary debates and meetings for 15 days from Wednesday and fined a month’s salary as an MP. Parliament would also hand the report to police and prosecuting authorities for further investigation.

The penalties are the strongest Parliament could impose after the ethics committee found Pule wilfully misled it about her romantic relationship with Phosane Mngqibisa.

Pule rose from her seat in the back-benches and offered a brief apology.

“I want to say to this House that I gave the best I could do to do my job, and that if in the course of me doing my job I made a mistake, I am sorry, I apologise.”

African National Congress MP Ben Turok, ethics committee co-chairman, told the Assembly he was dismayed at Pule’s attitude during the five-month investigation into how financial benefits flowed towards Mngqibisa, and his company.

“Throughout the hearings it was clear that there was collusion between Honourable Pule and some senior officials in presenting a false version of her activities.”

The former minister sought to deny her relationship with Mngqibisa. The panel found she failed to declare he had benefited materially from the sponsorship of last year’s information and communications technology event, the ICT Indaba, which her department hosted in Cape Town.

Pule was sacked from her portfolio in a Cabinet reshuffle in July.

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Pule says sorry, gets suspended