Former communications minister Dina Pule faces two investigations into her conduct and allegations of nepotism and corruption and, despite having been relieved of her position on Tuesday by president Jacob Zuma, both investigations appear set to proceed.
On Tuesday, Zuma fired the controversy-dogged Pule at a hastily arranged media conference at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. Zuma named deputy co-operative governance & traditional affairs minister Yunus Carrim as Pule’s replacement.
Pule is the subject of investigations by parliament’s ethics committee and the public protector. They follow a series of articles in the Sunday Times that tie Pule to businessman, and her alleged boyfriend, Phosane Mngqibisa.
The investigation by parliament’s ethics committee centres on allegations that Mngqibisa benefitted financially from sponsorship money earmarked for the ICT Indaba, an event arranged by the department of communications and held in Cape Town in May 2012.
Ethics committee co-chair Lemias Mashile tells TechCentral that Zuma firing Pule does not have any material effect on the committee’s investigation. Because Pule remains an MP, the investigation continues, Mashile says.
Democratic Alliance MP Dianne Kohler Barnard, who sits on the ethics committee, says that “it is not the president’s decision whether or not to remove [Pule] from parliament” and that “she remains an MP unless her party decides to remove her”.
Consequently, “we simply continue with the process”.
Once finalised, the report will be presented to the ethics committee and the findings will be delivered to parliament during its next full sitting, which is scheduled for 20 August.
The public protector, meanwhile, is expected to release her report within weeks. The report was originally meant to be released in March, then at the end of May, but has now been delayed again because, according to the public protector’s spokesman, Kgalalelo Masibi, “a witness cancelled an interview at the last minute”.
Masibi says Zuma firing Pule “will not have any impact” on the public protector’s investigation and subsequent report, “except that the president can’t be asked to take disciplinary action should an adverse findings be made”.
Meanwhile, DA MP Marian Shinn says she intends writing to the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) for an update on police investigations into the former communications minister.
In April, Shinn asked the police to probe the allegations of corruption against Pule, along with accusations against two top-ranking SABC executives.
The DA gave the police an affidavit in May asking that an investigation be undertaken into Pule, Mngqibisa and SABC executives Gugu Duda and Lulama Mokhobo. This followed a Sunday Times story that claimed the executives were appointed by Pule at Mngqibisa’s request.
Shinn says the DA has been sent “from pillar to post” between the police and the SIU in its efforts to confirm who is investigating Pule and whether any progress has been made with the case.
Pule’s removal from the executive “does not vindicate her”, Shinn adds.
“It is of extreme importance that a clear message is sent out to all those who hold executive office that should they in any way misuse their positions, they will be investigated and held to account in terms of the law. Pule must be no exception.” — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media