Madonsela report finds Pule guilty of ‘persistently lying’

Former communications minister Dina Pule must apologise to Parliament, the communications department, and the Sunday Times for "persistently lying and unethical conduct", public protector Thuli Madonsela said on Thursday.

"I am asking honourable Pule to apologise to the Sunday Times for the persistent insults and denial of the truth that she eventually admitted to me, and affected staff members of the department of communications for placing them in an unethical situation involving persistent lies and deceit.

"Honourable Pule is being asked to apologise to Parliament for persistently misleading this august constitutional pillar and never admitting the truth right until the end. Our understanding is that she never admitted to Parliament the full circumstances of what happened," Madonsela said in Pretoria.

She was releasing finalised reports on her investigations into allegations of corruption and a potential conflict of interest against Pule. It involved her appointment of service providers to do event management for the ICT Indaba in Cape Town held from June 4 to 7 last year. Madonsela found Pule unlawfully extended her spousal benefits to her romantic partner Phosane Mngqibisa.

"I had to deal with allegations that honourable Pule had a relationship with a certain Mr Mngqibisa which influenced his behaviour in the indaba. It was also alleged that this Mr Mngqibisa was represented to the department of communications as honourable Pule's companion and that he improperly benefited as such from the departmental finances."

Madonsela found that despite numerous denials, Pule told her department Mngqibisa was her official companion. "The key evidence is a form completed upon her appointment as the deputy minister of communications. By her own admission to me, honourable Pule had a romantic relationship."

Madonsela said at a meeting Pule told her Mngqibisa was not her spouse as he was married to someone else under civil law. She said Pule pledged to repay the money spent by the communications department. She had since paid back more than R89 000.

The money was spent as Mngqibisa accompanied Pule on overseas trips, as a spouse.

"Honourable Pule's conduct was unlawful. I also consider it grossly improper and unethical that she tried to pass the buck to her staff," said Madonsela. She said the amount of money spent on Mngqibisa had not yet been determined but the department should be reimbursed every cent.

Necessary diligence
Meanwhile, basic education director general Bobby Soobrayan failed to exercise the necessary diligence and leadership during the Eastern Cape's textbook crisis, Madonsela found. She urged Minister Angie Motshekga to hold Soobrayan and Eastern Cape education head of department Mthunywa Lawrence Ngonzo accountable.

"The appropriate remedial action as envisaged in the Constitution is that the minister should hold Mr Soobrayan accountable for actions and omissions that resulted in the failure to prevent, contain, and solve the national school books crisis," she said.

"Their conduct was in violation of the Constitution, which stipulates that 'all constitutional obligations must be performed diligently and without delay'."

The omissions of Soobrayan and Ngonzo constituted improper conduct and maladministration.

The public protector's report, "Learning Without Books", follows investigations into complaints lodged by Edmund van Vuuren, a member of the Eastern Cape provincial legislature and Democratic Alliance spokesperson regarding workbook shortages in the province. He lodged the complaint in August 2012.

According to Madonsela's findings, released on Thursday, the education department failed to provide adequate school workbooks on time in Eastern Cape schools. "Books transcribed in the incorrect language were provided to the schools, [there were] shortages of workbooks delivered to the schools, and there was late delivery of the workbooks," Madonsela told reporters in Pretoria.

"The national department of education violated the provisions of section 29 of the Constitution by failing to provide basic education in the form of school workbooks to everyone in the language of their choice."

She said there was a clear system failure evidenced by inadequate monitoring of the workbook ordering process. The ordering process was inaccurate in determining the quantity of workbooks required. "There was no co-ordination mechanism in place at all levels of the department of basic education's national, provincial, district, and school levels to regulate the provision of workbooks."

She said the department's failure had prejudiced pupils by exposing them to inferior education in comparison to their counterparts elsewhere. – Sapa

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