Premier’s PR to spin for Pule

2013-05-12 14:01

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Magashule’s media man roped in to clean up communications minister’s sullied image.

Free State Premier Ace ­Magashule’s top spin doctor has been deployed to help polish Communications Minister Dina Pule’s sullied image.

Former journalist Wisani Ngobeni is working for Pule on a 12-month secondment.

Ngobeni was the chief ­director of government communication in Magashule’s ­office ­before he was shipped off to Pule last month.

Pule has recently been ­receiving bad press for her ­alleged relationship with businessman Phosane Mngqibisa, who benefited from the communications department’s ICT Indaba.

The Sunday Times has also accused Mngqibisa, who it called Pule’s boyfriend, of ­interfering with the appointment of top executives to ­entities under Pule’s control.

Shortly after joining the ­premier’s office in 2010, Ngobeni proposed a controversial transversal bidding system for the bulk buying of media ­advertising on behalf of the province.

This in essence meant that provincial departments paid Magashule’s office to source media space.

The project is currently being investigated by the Public Protector and National Treasury.

Public Protector spokesperson Oupa Segalwe confirmed the investigation and also said his office was probing the awarding of a R140 million ­tender for the design of a ­website for the Free State.

National Treasury spokesperson Jabulani Sikhakhane said he could not comment on how far investigations were.

Magashule’s spokesperson, Mondli Mvambi, denied ­rumours that Ngobeni was moved from his job following tension between him and former ­director-general in Magashule’s ­office, Elzabe Rockman, who is now the provincial MEC for ­finance.

“Ngobeni has been seconded on request of the office of the minister (Pule) for a period of 12 months,” Mvambi said.

Mvambi said Ngobeni’s ­salary was still being footed by the office of the premier and will be claimed back from the communications department.

“The minister (Pule) made the request on the basis of my media and communication ­experience spanning more than 14 years,” Ngobeni said.

Ngobeni said Magashule’s ­office was continuing to assist him while he settles in at the communications department.

Magashule is linked to ­Mngqibisa through their shared directorship of a private company, Salamax 2344 (Pty) Ltd.

Mvambi could not confirm the nature of the business and said Magashule – who is still listed as an active company ­director – resigned in January 2010.

Ngobeni admitted that he knew Mngqibisa as a “businessman in South Africa”.

Pule’s spokesperson, Siya Qoza, didn’t respond to questions about whether Mngqibisa played a role in facilitating Ngobeni’s deployment. He also didn’t respond to other questions sent by the newspaper.

Mngqibisa did not respond to questions about his relationship with Ngobeni.

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