Shinn to lay charges against Pule

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DA shadow minister of communications Marian Shinn will lay criminal charges against communications minister Dina Pule.
DA shadow minister of communications Marian Shinn will lay criminal charges against communications minister Dina Pule.

Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow minister of communications, Marian Shinn, will lay criminal charges against minister of communications Dina Pule tomorrow.

In a brief notification issued this evening, the official opposition said the charges "relate to the alleged corruption in appointments made at the Department of Communications and its entities". The party was not specific as to the exact nature of the allegations.

Last month, the Sunday Times reported that Pule is not in control of the department, but has ceded control to her alleged boyfriend. Citing an internal audit, the paper reported on its front page that Pule's alleged romantic partner, Phosane Mngqibisa, has "got his friends and relatives onto the boards of the Post Office, Sentech, the Universal Services and Access Agency, and the SABC with the full knowledge of Pule".

The paper said this strengthens the case to remove Pule from her job. There have recently been several calls, including from the opposition party, for the minister to be axed over the recent collapse of the SABC board, which led to an interim board being put in place.

The Cape Chamber of Commerce has also called for intervention in the department as "recent events surrounding allegations of misconduct within the Department of Communications (DOC) is compounding business' concern about the lack of direction and leadership within the DOC".

"The chamber's ICT members have voiced their concern about the recent media reports surrounding the minister. It is creating a level of uncertainty and impacts the confidence of business in the local ICT sector," Roderick Lim Banda, chairman of the ICT portfolio committee at the chamber, recently said.

The paper says the evidence that Mngqibisa has used his influence to place people into these positions is supported by five independent sources, several of whom serve on the boards in question. It says these sources spoke on condition of anonymity.

According to the paper, Mngqibisa engineered the appointment of SABC group CEO Lulama Makhobo, allegedly a close relative, as well as friend Gugu Duda as CFO. Duda has been suspended and Tian Olivier is in an acting position.

Mngqibisa told the paper that he would not answer questions that were "designed to impinge on my rights to privacy". Duda also reportedly would neither deny nor confirm allegations made by a former confidant and business partner that she had secret meetings with the minister, arranged by Mngqibisa.

The department's spokesman Siya Qoza could not immediately comment as he had not been aware of the DA's notification. He has said the department views the allegations as part of the continuation of the smear campaign against the minister as the allegations are unsubstantiated.

Pule has also hit back. Speaking to ITWeb after the Sunday Times report, she said the paper had "crossed the line" following a "sustained smear campaign" that has been ongoing for the past nine months, and added that she will be taking legal action against the newspaper.

"They are now simply stating these allegations as fact and I've kept quiet long enough," she said, adding that the publication has used, and hid behind, unnamed sources, whose credibility and independence cannot be tested.

Pule also emphatically denied any personal relationship exists between her and Mngqibisa, the man alleged to be at the centre of the ICT Indaba scandal.

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