HumanIPO reported yesterday the Press Ombudsman had agreed to look into the Department of Communications’ (DoC) complaints against the Sunday Times over what Pule describes as a “smear campaign”, despite the Press Council only last week stating they will not look into the matter.
The battle between Pule and Sunday Times editor Phylicia Oppelt has turned into a festival of investigations.
Not only is the newspaper now under investigation, but Pule is being scrutinised by no fewer than three separate bodies for allegations originally made by the Sunday Times.
The South African Police Service (SAPS), parliament’s ethics committee and the public protector are all looking into allegations concerning the misappropriation of funds from the DoC-organised ICT Indaba in Cape Town last year.
Even before the repeated sleaze stories surrounding Pule began to emerge, the minister was not covering herself in glory as digital migration, originally meant to be completed by 2011, was being embarrassingly and unnecessarily stalled by her decision to award the digital tender to state-owned Sentech. A move later overturned by the courts.
It is true that previous digital migration failures had taken place before Pule assumed responsibility, but with the international deadline little more than two years away, now should not be the time to become embroiled in an increasingly bitter back and forth, with it appearing the department’s daily workload is simply taken up with preparing the next tirade against the paper.
A short glance at the DoC website shows two out of its last five news posts have been concerning the Sunday Times. Similarly, Pule’s spin doctor Wisani Ngobeni, himself a former Sunday Times reporter, has made a habit of continuing the pressure on the paper using his Twitter account.
In March, shortly before the intensity of the Sunday Times storm picked up, the Democratic Alliance (DA) communications spokesperson Marian Shinn had already told HumanIPO Pule and the DoC had no sense of urgency, and if that was true then it is hard to imagine things have improved since.