Mabe disputes M&G tender deal front page

Following the Mail & Guardian’s investigation into claims that ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe has been implicated in a multimillion-rand tender awarded last year by a subsidiary of the North West government, the former MP went on the defensive on Radio 702’s Eusebius McKaiser Show on Friday.

READ MORE: Mabe tied to R49m North West tender

Mabe said that his aim was to “clarify” what he deemed journalistic errors in the report, pointing out that, as a trained journalist himself, it is his role “uphold the integrity of journalists and their ability to report truthfully”.

He took particular issue with the newspaper’s front page which says that the “budding tech entrepreneur” has been told to “pay back the money”.

“If I did not buy the paper and only saw the headline, I would be convinced that someone called Pule Mabe who happens to be national spokesperson of the ANC has been ordered to repay 49-million,” Mabe said — a statement to which McKaiser agreed.

The report in question shows how Mvest Trust — an entity that Mabe is allegedly closely associated with — was awarded a R49-million tender by the North West Development Corporation (NWDC) while the spokesperson was still an ANC member of Parliament.

The trust holds Mabe’s patent rights for the development of an app and lists the former MP’s business associates as trustees.

The M&G pointed out that the code of MPs prohibits parliamentarians from “receiving any benefit including but not limited to a tender or a contract with an organ of state”. They are also required to declare their directorships.

The article contained insider information which suggests that the tender payment was not approved by the board of NWDC and that procurement processes were not followed.

READ MORE: North West’s damning audit paints a picture of an unstoppable slide

Mabe disputed the M&G’s claim that his former associates, Tinyiko Mahuntsi and Eulender Rakoma, were allegedly handpicked after making a presentation in Premier Supra Mahumapelo’s office in January last year prior to the registration of the trust.

The M&G wrote that Mahuntsi and Rakoma were also co-directors in another entity called Enviro Mobi, from which Mabe resigned only in January this year. But Mabe told McKaiser that he in fact left Enviro Mobi in 2014.

“As the investigative editor of the M&G, to go and write that I resigned from the company only in January 2018 when I resigned in 2014 without verifying facts it’s worrisome,” he said.

Mabe — who last year was fined 15 days of his salary and reprimanded by Parliament for flouting the members’ code of conduct — also sought to explain to McKaiser how his role as Mvest Trust’s patent holder is the relationship of the licensor and the licensee, thus distancing himself from the fact that the trust benefited from the alleged flouting of procurement processes.

“As a patent holder, has any portion of that R49-million come to you as Pule Mabe; yes or no?” McKaiser asked the spokesperson repeatedly.

“No it didn’t come to me as Pule Mabe, that’s what I’m trying to help you with,” said Mabe. “The problem is you are working very hard to try and drive a story that black people don’t qualify to be on a patent that ultimately.”

McKaiser scoffed at the statement, pushing Mabe to answer whether or not he benefited commercially from the tender payment — a line of questioning to which the spokesperson became increasingly agitated with.

McKaiser concluded the interview, calling Mabe’s comments “as clear as mud”.

Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit is a general news reporter at the Mail & Guardian. She covers topics relating to labour, corruption and the law.
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