So many questions, so few answers

The Department of Communications (DoC) would not give straight answers to questions about the ICT Indaba spending, the recent auditor general report, and about the relationship between Communications Minister Dina Pule and Phosane Mngqibisa.

The DoC released a press statement on 3 August 2012, saying that an auditor general report has cleared the minister of any wrong doing. This follows a report in the Sunday Times which raised questions about the finances related to the ICT Indaba held at the Cape Town Convention Centre from 4 to 7 June 2012.

According to the Sunday Times report, Phosane Mngqibisa, who is reportedly romantically linked to Pule, withdrew millions from event sponsorships within days after the money was paid.

The newspaper reported that Carol Bouwer Designs, a company owned by Carol Bouwer, who is close to President Jacob Zuma, was contracted to put the Indaba together.

According to the report, Bouwer “would not reveal how much money Mngqibisa withdrew from her account or confirm whether he did pay the suppliers”.

Marian Shinn, shadow minister of communications at the DA, said that the DoC statement “does nothing but add to the smokescreen Minister Dina Pule has tried to create to deflect attention from the real issue at hand: whether a man with whom she is believed to be romantically linked benefited improperly from an event which she hosted”.

“The scope of the auditor general’s investigation 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’,” said Shinn.

“The R10 million spent by the DoC is, however, not central to the controversy surrounding the Minister’s role in hosting the Indaba. Reports continue to emerge of the Minister’s potential conflict of interest involving Phosane Mngqibisa, the man with whom she is said to be romantically linked, in organising the ICT Indaba.”

Marian Shinn
Marian Shinn, DA Shadow Minister of Communications

Shortly after the DoC released its statement saying that auditor general’s report cleared the minister of any wrong doing, MyBroadband sent questions to the DoC to try to gain clarity on some of the issues.

For the sake of accuracy we provide the full questions and answers received from the Department of Communications.

Can you please clarify what the Auditor General checked or investigated? (This question tried to establish whether the auditor general merely looked at departmental procedures and expenditures, or whether it looked into how the money for the event was spent).

DoC Answer: The Auditor General conducted an investigation at the request of the Minister of Communications.

The press statement says that “The event attracted R16.3-million worth of positive global publicity”. How was this figure calculated?

DoC answer: The R16.5m media coverage is according to Newsclip. This was media reports covered leading, during and post the event.

Does Mr Mngqibisa have a romantic relationship with minister Pule as reported in the Sunday Times?

No DoC answer

Can you provide us with a breakdown of expenditures for the event?

DoC answer: Breakdown of expenditure: Deloitte this week began conducting a comprehensive auditing proves to scrutinize everything on the closing out report, and this will be concluded in three weeks time.

The lack of clarity on what exactly the auditor general investigated means that we will have to wait for more information before establishing if there were any problems related to the ICT Indaba’s finances.

The DA has also called on the Public Protector to investigate the issue. “Only a thorough and transparent investigation of the facts around the execution of the Indaba can clear the Minister’s name,” said Shinn.

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So many questions, so few answers