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Ndabeni-Abrahams denies flouting procurement processes

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Communications and digital technologies minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams.
Communications and digital technologies minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams.

Communications and digital technologies minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams has rubbished claims that she interferes in the procurement decisions and processes of the South African Post Office (SAPO).

Ndabeni-Abrahams also refuted allegations that her family members interfere in a similar manner at both SAPO and at the Universal Service and Access Agency of SA (USAASA), labelling the claims as “frivolous and baseless”.

The minister was responding to Independent Media’s recent reports that she “flouted” the post office’s procurement processes during her department’s media briefing in Hatfield, Pretoria.

The report alleges “Ndabeni-Abrahams introduced businessman and chairperson of private equity firm Convergence Partners, Andile Ngcaba, to the entity’s executives in an alleged bid to partner on a highly lucrative R2.1 billion e-commerce platform”.

Although she did not want to respond to the allegations levelled against her, she said it had become clear that the attacks are not only malicious and meant to be defamatory but are systematic.

“It is for this reason that I have decided to take the opportunity to set the record straight. I wish to categorically state that all these allegations are baseless, unfounded and devoid of any truth.

“The engagements that I had with the board of the post office were and continue to be within the parameters of the law. As it is common knowledge, the law requires me to engage the board of the post office and others that I’m responsible for on management issues from time-to-time.”

According to the minister, engagements with the SAPO board have always focused only on issues within her legal purview, including governance issues and other strategic matters.

“I state firmly that in these engagements, we have never discussed the appointment of service providers as reported by some of the media houses, or of any such defamatory issues as alleged by the said media house.”

She added that it is disappointing that Independent Media’s reports ignored and disregarded “factual responses” to the allegations. “For instance, on the two service providers, I’m alleged to have imposed onto the post office and the Postbank two service providers, allegedly Blue Label Telecoms and Dr Ngcaba’s Africa COVID-19 platform.

“I have responded in writing on both of these allegations, and stated that at no stage did I seek to have either of these entities appointed by the post office or Postbank.”

Ndabeni-Abrahams said despite this, the stories were published. “The stories are clearly intended to distort my image to the public.”

On her WhatsApp account being hacked, the minister said there is nothing untoward to witness only “naughty” messages between herself and her husband, Thato Abrahams.

“In terms of anything illegal, I doubt you will find anything unless you interpret flirting with my husband as an illegal issue.

“For those that I engage with on a professional environment, it will be me engaging with them on that professional environment.”

Yesterday, the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies revealed that Ndabeni-Abrahams’s WhatsApp was hacked, resulting in private and confidential information being in the hands of a third-party.

According to the department, the matter has since been reported to law enforcement authorities and platform owners for action.

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