The DoC cannot wash its hands of Telkom's SACP sponsorship
The Department of Communications is seemingly washing its hands of Telkom's dubious financial contribution to a party-political event.
In response to questions raised by the DA around Telkom's recent financial participation in the South African Communist Party's 91st Celebratory Dinner, department spokesperson Siya Qoza reportedly refrained from comment, claiming that the Department only deals with matters "at board level".
Telkom has reportedly confirmed that it bought a table at the SACP dinner to "entertain its stakeholders". Whilst the company claims that this does not constitute a "sponsorship", a financial contribution was made to the event, and possibly the party's coffers.
Given its board-level involvement in Telkom, and its responsibility as the custodian of the significant public shareholding in the company, the Department of Communications must ensure that Telkom operates with integrity and is not be seen to be courting political favour.
As board representatives, it is the Department's fiduciary responsibility to ensure that decisions are taken in the best interests of Telkom's shareholders. I therefore call on the Department to clarify its position and publicly state whether it believes it was appropriate for Telkom to make financial contributions to a party-political event.
I will also submit questions to Communications Minister Dina Pule to determine:
- Who were Telkom's guests at the SACP dinner;
- how much the table cost Telkom;
- whether the Telkom board approved the decision to financially contribute to the SACP event;
- if so, whether the Department opposed this decision;and
- if the department did not oppose this, whether any of its staff were Telkom's guests; and if so, who were these people and what are their positions in the department.
As the custodian of the public's investment in Telkom, the Department has a duty to provide answers to these questions and clarify its position on this matter. The Department must tell the public how it intends to fulfil that duty.
Statement issued by Marian Shinn MP, DA Shadow Minister of Communications, July 18 2012
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