Communications minister Dina Pule has asked the auditor general to investigate claims that sponsorship fees for the recent ICT indaba in Cape Town were drawn from the account of the organiser by a man allegedly romantically linked to her.
The Sunday Times, in a story by its award-winning investigative team, reported on Sunday that “that millions paid in ‘sponsorships’ by Telkom, MTN and Vodacom were withdrawn within days by Phosane Mngqibisa, who is said to be romantically linked to Pule. The minister personally lobbied Telkom, MTN and Vodacom to sponsor the event, held in Cape Town last week”.
Bua News, the government’s news agency, reported on Monday, “The minister … has taken note of the rumours contained in the Sunday Times about the application of departmental funds by the organisers of the inaugural ICT Indaba,” the department said in a statement.
Pule asked auditor general Terence Nombembe to investigate the allegations and told Bua News she was “convinced that any hint of impropriety would get all the necessary attention”.
The Sunday Times reported that Mngqibisa was a “second signatory” on the account of Carol Bouwer, the event organiser and a friend of President Jacob Zuma. The ICT Indaba was attended by President Zuma, as well as other high level government employees.
Vodacom, MTN and Telkom paid R25.7-million in sponsorship money while the Department of Communications paid R10.5-million, the Sunday Times said.