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AG investigates ICT Indaba fraud
Wednesday, 04 July 2012 00:00
Written by Farzana Rasool
The auditor-general’s office will be looking into alleged misappropriation of funds for the inaugural ICT Indaba that took place last month.
Media reports said millions in sponsorship fees were drawn from the account of the event organiser by a man alleged to be romantically linked to communications minister Dina Pule, after she lobbied telecoms companies to sponsor millions for the event.
The Department of Communications (DOC) says Pule has taken note of the rumours about the application of departmental funds by the organisers of the indaba.
“She has already spoken to the auditor-general to request that he looks into the matter. After this engagement, she is convinced that the matter will receive the necessary attention.”
The DOC adds that Pule expects to receive a report in a month’s time, but did not comment on her relationship with the accused.
The media reports say millions paid in sponsorships by Telkom, MTN and Vodacom were withdrawn within days by Phosane Mngqibisa, whose company, Khemano, was subcontracted for the indaba.
Carol Bouwer Productions was appointed by the DOC to put the event together. Bouwer confirmed to media that Mngqibisa was a second signatory to her company bank account. Bouwer hired Mngqibisa’s company to handle the event management part of the Indaba. Operators say the sponsorship agreements for the event were above board.
Vodacom says it signed a commercial agreement with Carol Bouwer Productions as a “Gold Sponsor” after a written request by the DOC. It sponsored R5 million as part of the agreement.
“We performed a full due diligence on Carol Bouwer Productions, including an anti-corruption questionnaire. Our contract also included a clear anti-corruption clause. As long as the deliverables set out in our agreement were met, which they were, we have no reason to suspect anything untoward has occurred in relation to our sponsorship of the event.”
Addressing the alleged link to Mngqibisa, the operator says it was not aware of this and, along with other sponsors, is expecting a report from Carol Bouwer Designs that will contain audited financials for the event.
Telkom sponsored R5.7 million for the event, on a one-year contract. “As part of our close-out process an engagement with the event organiser will take place to ensure that all promised rights were met, as well as proper governance followed.”
DA shadow communications minister Marian Shinn says, in short, if a man to whom the minister is linked has misused state funds, the minister herself could also stand to gain.
“Adv Madonsela’s office needs to investigate whether the minister knew about the involvement of Mngqibisa in the event management of the indaba and, if so, whether this was raised by the minister at any stage.”
Shinn will submit a series of parliamentary questions to Pule to determine the full details of how the event was financed, the process used by the DOC to appoint Carol Bouwer Designs, whether competitive quotes were obtained as part of this process, the planned outcomes of the event, and the financial and administrative responsibility of the ICT Indaba Secretariat that will be established, and the potential for duplication of similar initiatives that are active in the ICT arena in sub-Saharan Africa.
Disclaimer: ITWeb was one of several media partners for the event.
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