Dina Pule. CC Image courtesy of GovernmentZA on Flickr.
South African president Jacob Zuma has sacked controversial communications minister Dina Pule.
At a press conference at the Union Buildings in Pretoria this afternoon, Zuma confirmed current deputy co-operative governance and traditional affairs minister Yunus Carrim is to take over Pule’s portfolio.
In a statement, Zuma said: “Twenty years of democracy have changed the face of our country and the last five years have pushed that change forward. The achievements are due to the hard work of many of our ministers, premiers, deputy ministers, MECs, mayors and many others who have worked hard in leading a process of transformation and improving the quality of life of our people.
“To take that change forward, I have decided to make some changes to the national executive.”
The replacement of Pule was one such change, but when contacted by HumanIPO, Department of Communications (DoC) spokesperson Siya Qoza said the matter was for the presidency to respond to.
The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) has repeatedly called for Pule to be replaced, with shadow communications minister Marian Shinn saying yesterday an explanation was needed into the source of funding for food parcels and blankets Pule planned to hand out.
Shinn told HumanIPO she welcomed Pule’s removal.
“She achieved nothing in her 21 month tenure,” she said. “She prevaricated over the major issues such as spectrum allocation, developing a coherent broadband policy, and the effective management of the entities that report to her. She interfered in executive appointments, particularly at the SABC, and was instrumental in collapsing the Telkom KT Corporation deal.
“She has also tended to give from the hip – for example the set top policy ‘revision’ has stalled the process as would-be manufacturers do not know whether they will need to re-tender.
Shinn added Pule had put the expansion of ICT in South Africa on hold, so her removal from office was “a welcome relief”.
The shadow minister had a word of warning about Pule’s replacement, however.
“While I do not know that much about her replacement, Yunus Karrim, I understand he is an ardent Communist and fan of nationalisation,” she said.
“I hope his term in office will not lead to increased government control of the sector and interference with the market dynamics that are so essential to the flourishing of the ICT sector and the taking to market of competitive, affordable products and services.”
HumanIPO reported in February Zuma’s spokesman Mac Maharaj had denied rumours Pule was to be fired after the Sunday Times reported she was set to be replaced by Lindiwe Zulu in response to criticism over her handling of several issues.
Pule is currently the subject of two investigations, by parliament’s ethics committee and public protector Thuli Madonsela. She had also recently been embroiled in a dispute with the Sunday Times, with the Press Ombudsman throwing out a complaint from Pule against the paper.
Zuma also used his briefing to appoint a new deputy minister of science and technology, Michael Masutha.
(Additional reporting by Gabriella Mulligan)