Panel to probe Pule's conduct - TechCentral

Panel to probe Pule’s conduct

Communications minister Dina Pule

Communications minister Dina Pule

The joint committee on ethics and members’ interests has appointed a panel to look into the conduct of communications minister Dina Pule.

According to committee co-chair Lemias Mashile, the committee took a decision on 20 February that, in terms of paragraph 3.1 of the procedure for the investigation of complaints, a hearing must be held to deal with complaints against Pule.

The hearing will be held between 22 and 26 April.

The multi-party panel comprises Ben Turok (chair), Andrew Mlangeni, Bhekizizwe Radebe, Modjadji Mangena, Diane Kohler Barnard, Jacobus van der Merwe, Thabo Makunyane, Zukiswa Rantho and Swaphi Plaatjie.

Pule has been accused of nepotism after allegations that her alleged boyfriend Phosane Mngqibisa orchestrated the appointment of friends and family to key organisations under her portfolio.

Nomakhaya Malebane, a former confidant and business partner of Gugu Duda, allegedly told the Sunday Times that Duda — who was friends with Mngqibisa — was given the position of chief financial officer at the SABC as a result of this friendship.

“Phosane gave Gugu three choices: to be chief financial officer at either the SABC, the Post Office or Post Bank, and she chose SABC,” Malebane said.

Malebane said Pule orchestrated that Duda be selected by the board — receiving her CV directly and getting it into the hands of the board even though it was late into the selection process.

Former SABC board member Pippa Green seemingly referred to the incident in her resignation letter.

“We were told to submit three [names]including the name of a person whose CV came to us suspiciously late. This was the CV of the person whom the minister subsequently appointed and who turned out to be a major disappointment for the board.

“It is a tragedy to me that the public broadcaster is seen as a place that attracts people either for financial or political gain. In the conflicts that have recently occurred, I don’t believe there has been much thought given to the staff of the SABC, many of whom, despite the turmoil, work long and hard hours to try to improve the programming, content and stability of the organisation.”

Pule’s spokesman, Siza Qoza, said the minister denied any impropriety with regard to appointments under her portfolio.

The Sunday Times also alleged that Pule’s boyfriend organised the appointment of his relative, Lulama Makhoba, to the post of SABC CEO.

According to Qoza, Pule believed she was the victim of a “politically motivated smear campaign [that]is characterised by people throwing mud at her in the hope that something will stick”, the Sunday Times reported.

Asked by the newspaper if Pule was aware that Makhobo was related to her boyfriend, Qoza said Pule had “considered Ms Mokhobo’s experience and ability to do the job [and did not]ask for a list of her relatives”.

Earlier this month, Pule lashed out in a scathing letter at the SABC board after the suspension of Duda, the appointment of her replacement and the reinstatement of acting chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng, which she described as “unprocedural”.

Duda, a chartered accountant who was on a five-year contract at the SABC until she was suspended by the board, is being investigated for allegations of financial irregularities and has been suspended on full pay.

Pule expressed her unhappiness in the letter addressed to SABC board chairman Ben Ngubane. The letter was sent after the unexpected resignation of both Ngubane and his deputy Thami ka Plaatjie earlier this month.

Amid the mayhem that was provoked by the board’s recent decision to remove Motsoeneng from his post, the minister’s letter has infuriated some board members. But Motsoeneng, the man at the centre of the imbroglio, never budged from his office and has remained in his post.

Duda was considered to be the minister’s choice as chief financial officer by some board members, because Pule had rejected others on the short list until Duda’s name was added.

The SABC board was dissolved after a meeting of parliament’s communications portfolio committee last Tuesday.  — (c) 2013 Mail & Guardian

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