Allegations against the Minister of Communications must be investigated and swiftly resolved

Published On February 7, 2013 | By SOSAdmin | Media / Press Release, News

ALLEGATIONS AGAINST THE MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS MUST BE INVESTIGATED AND SWIFTLY RESOLVED
The SOS Coalition is very concerned about the ongoing allegations of corruption against the Minister of Communications, Ms. Dina Pule. The allegations stem from a major international ICT Indaba that was organised in 2012 in Cape Town. The event cost a staggering R36.2m for four days . According to newspaper reports this included R25.7m from the private sector and R10.5m from the Department of Communications. Allegations have remained unresolved about the involvement of Mr. Phosane Mngqibisa and his company, Khemano. Mngqibisa has been romantically linked to the Minster.

The Sunday Times alleges that Mngqibisa was paid R6.4m as a management fee for four days work. (The Sunday Times points out that this amount was equivalent to what the former Telkom CEO, Pinky Moholi, earned in a year!) Further it appears that despite this enormous payment he played a very minor role – leaving the managing of the event to the company, Carol Bouwer and the Department itself.

Multiple investigations but no resolution

There have been multiple investigations of the matter. The Coalition is aware of at least two investigations that have been concluded – an Auditor General investigation and the “Khemano report” compiled by risk management consultants Pedlar, Compion, Henderson and Associates. Both reports cleared the Minister of any wrong-doing. Further, we know that the matter has also been taken to the Public Protector.

The Coalition wants this matter to be resolved once and for all. We need a credible investigation with clear, transparent terms of reference, agreed up front by the relevant parties. (In terms of the Auditor General’s report allegations were made that the terms of reference were too narrow to get to the heart of the problems.)

The Coalition is disturbed by the amount of public money and time that has been spend on these investigations and the fact that the allegations continue to linger. The Coalition believes strongly that these allegations are hampering the critical work of the Department and have already dragged on for just under a year.

The staggering cost of the ICT Indaba

A further critical issue raised by members of the Coalition is the extremely high overall costs of the ICT Indaba. The Coalition wants a breakdown of such costs to be made available for perusal. Despite the fact that the event was heavily sponsored by industry, delegates still had to pay conference fees. The question is, what money was spent on what budget item lines and to what end?

The Coalition wants action

The Coalition wants Parliament to call the Department of Communications to account in terms of the money spent at this Indaba. The Coalition, further, calls on Parliament to look at ways of finally resolving the issue of these lingering corruption allegations.

2013 is a critical year for the ICT sector – the Minister’s ICT policy review process is being rolled out. The hope is that this will lead to a new ICT vision and laws. Further, the country is involved in the important migration from analogue to digital TV where there have been serious halts and delays. In the last few days Deputy Director General of ICT Policy, Themba Phiri, stated that South Africa will now miss the 2015 deadline for analogue “switch-off”. This will impact negatively on South Africa’s ability to free up radio spectrum for a host of new telecommunication and broadcasting services.  SOS believes that the ICT sector needs to move forward boldly. The Coalition thus calls on Parliament to hold the Department of Communications and Ministry to account.

The SOS Coalition represents a number of trade union federations including COSATU and FEDUSA, a number of independent unions including BEMAWU and MWASA; independent film and TV production sector organisations including the South African Screen Federation (SASFED); a host of NGOs and CBOs including the Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) and Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) as well as a number of academics and freedom of expression activists.

 

For more information contact:

Kate Skinner
(082) 926 6404

OR

Sekoetlane Jacob Phamodi
(076) 084-8077

OR

William Bird
(082) 887-1370

OR

Marc Schwinges

 

 

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