Protector to probe Pule Indaba role

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IOL pic sep 9 dina pule sabc0 Independent Newspapers Communications Minister Dina Pule. Photo: Neil Baynes

Johannesburg - The Public Protector will probe a possible conflict of interest involving Communications Minister Dina Pule, her office said on Monday.

"Yes, the Public Protector will investigate minister Pule's role in the ICT Indaba," spokeswoman Kgalalelo Masibi said.

The indaba was a conference hosted by the department of communications in June in an attempt to put Africa on the global information and communications technology (ICT) map.

The department claimed afterwards that partnerships with the United Nation's International Telecommunication Union and various sponsors attested to the success of the event.

Questions had been raised about the financial involvement of Pule's "romantic partner" Phosane Mngqibisa.

Democratic Alliance MP Marian Shinn said: "We need to know whether the minister abused her position of authority over companies in the ICT industry to enrich a close personal friend."

The DA said the protector's probe would supplement an inquiry it  instigated via Parliament's ethics and members' interests committee  for a probe into Pule's outsourcing of the event.

"The fallout of how R25.7 million was raised from sponsors for the event and was seemingly withdrawn from the event's project manager Carol Bouwer's business bank account by Mr Mngqibisa has been the focus of media attention since mid-June," said Shinn.

"There are almost weekly revelations of how money has been spent  lavishly on items and trips that have tenuous links to the ICT Indaba and more to do with a jet-setting lifestyle."

The protector's investigation would hopefully shed light on Pule's knowledge and influence over the organisation of the indaba,  the appointment of Mngqibisa as an associate to Bouwer for the event, and any financial gain he may have made from sponsors. - Sapa

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