Cold comfort for Dina Pule

After all, ANC politicians giving the tearful Pule a hug after she had been condemned is not quite the same as carrying Tony Yengeni on their shoulders, like a triumphant sportsperson, to prison, as they did after he finally lost all appeals against his 2003 fraud conviction.

Still, both cases look like a refusal to acknowledge wrongdoing in the first place. And, as we report in this edition, the pats of comfort given to Pule echoed attempts by her sympathisers to contest the findings of the ethics panel. 

All sorts of spurious objections were made, including that, for “cultural” reasons, Pule was not able to be honest about the status of her relationship with Phosane Mngqibisa, who not only travelled extensively (and expensively) as Pule’s companion when she was minister but also, it is claimed, benefited financially from his involvement in the communication ministry’s business. (A figure of R6-million has been mentioned.)

To argue that too much was made of her personal life in the report is to miss the point that it is precisely in the space between public service and private relationships that so much corruption takes place. 

Is the ANC serious about fighting corruption, or isn’t it? Is it serious about MPs being honest and adhering to Parliament’s code of conduct, or isn’t it?

The key issue here is that Pule lied. Furthermore, interrogating her lies makes it look very much as though she corruptly sent money and other benefits Mngqibisa’s way, and/or that he took a commanding role in the ministry, where he had no official position, entirely in his own interests.

This should be fully investigated by the police, as recommended by the report. We hope that the recommendation was not just a gesture on the panel’s part and that the police take the charges seriously. We had also hoped Pule herself might take the charges seriously but it appears that she is still unsure whether she did anything wrong: “if” she had made “mistakes”, she was sorry.

Pule has been waging a war of misdirection and disinformation ever since she was first accused of malfeasance and her tactics have often been of the lowest kind. Should she be comforted for being found out? The sins for which Parliament has rapped her on the knuckles may, in fact, turn out to be the least of her worries.

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.


Nehawu launches urgent court bid over protective gear for health...

The health workers’ union says the government has rebuffed its attempts to meet about mitigating risks to workers

Stay at home, Cyril said. But what about the homeless?

In Tshwane, forcing homeless people off the street resulted in chaos and the abuse of a vulnerable population. In Durban, a smooth, well-planned operation fared far better

Press Releases

New energy mix on the cards

REI4P already has and will continue to yield thousands of employment opportunities

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world

SAB Zenzele special AGM rescheduled to March 25 2020

New voting arrangements are being made to safeguard the health of shareholders