According to a report in the Sunday Times, Zuma will remove Pule, whose department has been criticised for poor oversight of issues crucial to the telecommunications and broadcasting industries, as part of an imminent reshuffling of his cabinet.
Pule has been plagued by controversy since she took over the communications portfolio from the late Roy Padayachie. She’s been accused of channeling millions in sponsorship money earmarked for last year’s ICT Indaba in Cape Town to her alleged boyfriend, Phosane Mngqibisa.
On her watch, the department of communications has also failed to meet already-extended deadlines to switch on digital terrestrial television broadcasts. There has also been little progress in opening up radio frequency spectrum for next-generation mobile broadband services.
The minister also recommended to cabinet that the proposed sale of 20% of Telkom’s equity to Korea’s KT Corp not be supported by government, scuppering the deal, a move that contributed to the resignation of Telkom group CEO Nombulelo Moholi.
City Press newspaper quotes three unnamed sources — two in the ANC and one in government — saying that Pule’s departure is “imminent” and that she will be replaced as communications minister by Zulu.
The newspaper says Zulu — a “rising star” — is a former ambassador to Brazil and Zuma’s international affairs adviser. “She was recently elected to the ANC’s national working committee and chairs the party’s communications subcommittee.”
In December, Pule was not reelected to the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) and, according to City Press, her “close association with former ANC treasurer-general Mathews Phosa apparently means she is out of favour”. The fact that she was not reelected to the ANC may make her more dispensable.
If Zulu does take over the ministry from Pule, she will be the fifth communications minister in four years. Since the death of Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri in April 2009, Siphiwe Nyanda, Roy Padayachie and Pule have held the position. — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media