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Pule could be hauled before ethics panel

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Independent Newspapers

Communications Minister Dina Pule. Photo: Neil Baynes

Cape Town - Parliament’s ethics committee hopes to “very soon” finalise its probe into an alleged conflict of interest relating to the ICT Indaba hosted by the Department of Communications in Cape Town last year.

Khemano group chief executive Phosane Mngqibisa, alleged to be Communications Minister Dina Pule’s boyfriend, was reported on Sunday to have received R6 million in management fees after the department allegedly “forced conference organisers to hire him”.

On Sunday, parliamentary ethics committee co-chairman, ANC MP Ben Turok, said the committee had begun its investigation into the alleged conflict of interest last year, when the reports first surfaced, but further probing was required.

“It’s a very complicated case and it’s not clear who did what,” he said, adding a “proper” investigation was needed.

He said the committee’s registrar had completed several interviews and would be giving a report to MPs, who would then decide on a way forward.

When the allegations first emerged, the committee wrote to Pule and she replied in a sworn affidavit, he said.

The registrar had had a “one on one” with a player in the saga, but the interview had not given rise to enough new information. The registrar would hold another meeting with that person, and a report would be prepared.

Turok confirmed that the committee had powers to subpoena “anybody”, and that, as an MP, Pule fell under its “supervision”.

While Public Protector Thuli Madonsela announced she would investigate Pule’s role in the possible conflict of interest, Turok said Parliament’s ethics committee preferred to handle “such issues” itself.

He said it was possible Pule could appear before a formal hearing, such as that faced by ANC MP Yolanda Botha two years ago over kickback allegations while she was Northern Cape MEC for social development.

DA communications spokeswoman Marian Shinn said she would ask Madonsela to speed up the investigation and make her report public as soon as possible.

“It is becoming increasingly evident that the minister (Pule) may have abused her position of authority over companies in the ICT industry to enrich a close personal friend,” she said.

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