In an interview with 702’s Eusebius McKaiser on Friday morning, ANC national spokesperson and former MP Pule Mabe has insisted that the M&G‘s lead story ― which is an investigation into claims that he was involved in a multimillion-rand tender awarded last year by a subsidiary of the North West government ― is inaccurate and misleading.
Read the full transcript of the interview below:
Eusebius McKaiser: Joining me on the line, in fact ANC national spokesperson, Pule Mabe. Ah Pule, thank you so much for making time on the Eusebius McKaiser Show.
I really appreciate your coming on this morning.
Pule Mabe: Morning and morning to your listeners.
EM: So this story, I want to try and get clarity on the way you feature on page 4 in the lead story of today’s Mail & Guardian. My understanding, and tell me whether this is correct, is that you have a company, Mvest Pty Ltd. It had a patent. Mvest Trust – was a trust – that wants to use that patent and as part of their attempt to use it managed to successfully get a R49-million tender with the North West Development Corporation. Is that factually accurate?
PM: No, no, no, no. That is a… there are a number of challenges there. Can I just give my version, quickly?
EM: Sure. Yes sir, go ahead.
PM: First, eh Eusebius, you see the biggest problem is that the headline of the story by the Mail & Guardian does not tally with the story itself on page four. If I did not buy the newspaper and only saw the headline, I would be convinced that someone called Pule Mabe, who happens to be national spokesperson of the ANC, has been ordered to repay 49- million.
EM: Yes that’s right. I agree with you.
PM: That’s what the story says, but it’s fine. I’m dealing with those issues with the Press Ombudsman already. Because you see as a trained journalist myself one of the things I’ve sought to uphold is the integrity of journalists and their ability to report truthfully and verify facts. Now journalist earn respect, they don’t just get given respect because they’re journalists. For Thanduxolo Jika, someone so senior, as the investigative editor of the Mail & Guardian, to go and write that I resigned from a company only in January 2018 when I resigned in 2014 without verifying facts – it’s worrisome. This is a person who is very senior. He comes from the Sunday Times, is now at the Mail & Guardian. These things are there at Cipro, you know?
EM: So when you say the company that you resigned from in 2014, are we now talking Mvest Pty Ltd?
PM: I’m coming to Mvest Pty Ltd. I’m not a director of Mvest Pty Ltd I’m also not the trustee of the Mvest Trust. What is happening is that, one of the clarities, and I think the challenge is when journalists have been given what they believe is a scoop by sources and you talk to them when they’re already on deadline, they miss certain facts along the line. For instance, Thanduxolo was presented with a portfolio of evidence, so in his story he decides not to point out to whether workswere done or not done in state. He focuses on what might have been my undueinfluence on the issue. Something that is quite unfair and I’ll tell you why I’m saying it’s unfair. Look, I don’t have a problem of being subjected to public scrutiny. If I do things that are dubious or questionable, as a responsible citizen I must be taken to task. But when I am taken to task, thisthingmust happen within the confines of fairness so when a journalist writes without verifying their… I mean just a basic thing… if you say I resigned from a company in January 2018 when I resigned in 2014 you are casting aspersions on my character. If you say I had gone out… can I just have a minute to clarify this quickly? If you say I had gone out and influenced a government process when I’m not even part of government institutions at that time only because I’m part of the leadership core of the ruling party, that is also worrisome. I mean there a number of things: One — there is Mvest a patent — there’s a patent called Mvest. There’s a company called Mvest Pty Ltd. There’s a trust called Mvest Trust. These three are different. Now, I am not a director of Mvest PTY, I’m also not a trustee of the Mvest trust. What I am is that in the group of companies I chair, one of the patents we have, is the Mvest patent.
EM: What does the patent do by the way?
PM: What the patent does is that if you like… it’s almost an uber in the laundry and product distribution space. You know so where…
EM: Are you still the patent holder of it?
PM: Well, I am because it is… remember the Constitution of the republic protects my right to creativity, but also you can’t extend….
EM: So as the patent holder, as the patent holder, which is your constitutional right, what is your legal relationship as the patent holder with Mvest Pty Ltd? What is the relationship between you as the patent holder and the company?
PM: Yes, my relationship as the patent holder with any other person beyond Mvest, it could even be with Eusebius. My relationship with anyone is the relationship of the licensor and the licensee.
EM: So let me just get this straight. As you and I speak, you are not a director or in any way legally part of the directorship of Mvest Pty Ltd and you haven’t been since 2014 nor of the trustee. However… hold on… hold on one second Pule, just tell me if my summary is accurate. Thanduxolo, on your version, is factually inaccurate. You’ve not been a director since 2014. That is the first factual error in the story. You’re not a trustee of Mvest Trust either, but you are the patent holder and you’re still the patent holder, you were the patent holder while you were an MP. You were the patent holder while you’re currently the ANC spokesperson. Answer me this question: as the patent holder, have you received any cut from the successful tender between Mvest Pty Ltd and Mvest Trust and the North West Development Corporation. In that activity between those three entities, did any of that money come to you as a patent holder?
PM: No. What I can assure you, Eusebius, is that anyone who uses my patent, whether they use it for the North West provincial government, they use it for the government of America, they use it for Eusebius. Anyone, like it’s the case with some, that relationship is regulated by license agreement. If the license agreement talks about payments for using the platform it means that the relevant companies that are responsible to manage because there’s a company that manages that relationship. There are relevant companies that are responsible to manage those relationship within the normal course of conducting business make sure that those transactions are fulfilled. Because number one, I must state this upfront, I don’t trade with government. I trade with companies that are licensed to use my patent.
EM: I get that. I get that. But, can we be plain about it? As the patent holder… No, no, no Pule I ask the questions and then I shut up and then I give you time. What I want to come back in… please baba just give me space… as I ask you the questions. You said want to submit yourself as a public figure to a conversation so allow me to speak uninterrupted. Can we get simple clarity on the following: As a patent holder, has any portion of that R49-million come to you as Pule Mabe, yes or no?
PM: No it didn’t come to me as Pule Mabe, that’s what I’m trying to help you with. The problem is one, you are working very hard to try and drive a story that black people don’t qualify to be on a patent that ultimately accrue…
EM: Oh please man, try another one.
PM: No, no, no I’m telling you this because you’ve done this to me before on radio. So it’s better that I say it to you on air.
EM: Dude, we are both black. I am holding you accountable as a public figure and you can’t handle it. Have you, as patent holder, benefitted from this tender?
PM: Patent holders, Eusebius, benefit from their own ideas! They also benefit commercially and that is not illegal.
EM: So tell me, have you benefited commercially in this instance?
PM: What is wrong?
EM: I’m not saying it’s wrong. I’m just asking you, yes or no. Have you benefited commercially as the patent holder?
PM: If I’m a patent holder and I’ve licensed this thing. What I don’t want us to do is that I don’t want your question to come across as being sensational. By the way, number one, Eusebius, it is not a crime for me to participate in economic activity.EM: We aren’t talking about criminality, dude, you’re a public figure. My question is simple. Have you benefited as the patent holder from the 49-million?
PM: Can you allow me, can you allow me to answer this thing in the manner I deem fit. If you got answers for me, why did you have me on your show? I am telling you because I don’t want to give you a yes or no answer.
EM: Why not?
PM: It’s not helpful.
EM: It’s extremely helpful. It’s part of public accountability. Have you as patent holder have got any money from the commercial exploitation on the part of the trust in the North West deal that the trust did, yes or no?
PM: Any patent holder, whether they are Eusebius or…
EM: Don’t talk theoretically. I’m talking about you.
PM: When people… Yes, no, I’m talking about myself as well. That’s why I’m mentioning myself.
EM: How much did you get?
PM: Any patent holder, whether they are Pule Mabe or Eusebius… I think… look I don’t even think we should get there because one, I had agreed to get on your show to clarify the inaccuracies that they reported in the story. I can assure you, as a patent holder…
EM: How much did you get as patent holder?
PM: Why are we even going there?
EM: But you got something right, can you at least tell me you got something as patent holder from this tender?
PM: No, no, no, no, no. I’m not going to get there because I told you that patent holders are entitled to receive incentives when people use their ideas in the execution and conduct of their wake.
EM: Pule that is not up for dispute here. I agree with you on that point. What I want to get clarity on… and you’ve just said you’ve been a journalist before so you understand the accountability role on my part. I’m asking you a simple question… as patent holder… Pule… Pule… Pule hold on. Speaking at the same time as me is not going to make you more convincing. My question is clear: have you, as patent holder, been compensated as a result of the trust getting this tender from the North West government, yes or no?
PM: No, no, no. I did not get compensated as a result of the trust getting a tender from the North West province. I get compensated by anyone who uses the patent in whatever they do in the fulfilment of their enterprise development activities. So in the trust, conducted enterprisal activities using the patent, whether it’s in the North West or anywhere they will have to pay a certain license agreement that they have with companies that are responsible for money in such relationships.
EM: Were you paid in this instance, by Mvest Pty Ltd and the trust? Were you paid?
PM: I was not… I was not paid. Maybe… let me put it this way, I was not paid. Companies that are responsible for managing their relationships of the patents… when these patents are utilised those companies do get paid license fees as per the license agreement that they had in place.
EM: So would Pule Mabe get paid for his licensing? Did you get paid Pule, yes or no?
PM: No, no I didn’t… I don’t get paid. It’s companies who get paid. I don’t…
EM: But you said you’re a patent holder and when you have a licensing agreement, as the licence holder and distributor, you said routinely you get paid and the law allows you to get paid. Why can’t you be clear about this? You sound as dodgy as the Mail & Guardian’s portraying you to be.
PM: No, no, no. Okay, that’s fine. You can insult me if that makes you feel happy and better on radio because I’m not being dodgy. I’m trying to assist you, understand the trade. And the problem is that when I’m speaking you are coming in and referring to me as dodgy. You know? I’m trying to explain because, you see, anyone listening to the radio stations now, when you say has Pule Mabe been paid, what you are… by implicating… you are saying, ‘Have you personally been paid?’ so now…
EM: Yeah, that is my question! That’s what I’m asking.
PM: Yes. Correct, correct. So I’m trying to explain that to you that patents are natural persons. Patent developers are natural persons, but patents sit under entities. So when payments must be made between entities because of the relationship that occurred out of the usage of a patent, that gets to be regulated between the companies that are entered into those relationships.
EM: Okay, so which entity… which legal entity… which legal entity accrues benefits from your patent? What is the name of the legal entity that accrues from payments of your patent.
PM: That is not the question. I’m not even going to be getting into that.
EM: Okay then, let’s leave it there for today Pule. What’s your final comment?
PM: My final comment is that when journalists go out to do stories, they should not sound as desperate as you’re doing to try and prove that those who hold public office can’t account. I’m trying to do a simple thing here and explain a relationship of how things transpired. In the process, you are trying to project me as if I’m dodgy, trying to hide something and all of that. I’m not saying this, Eusebius, it’s unfair. I agreed to speak to you on your show because I think that when I have picked up inaccuracies, I must clarify those and I must not…
EM: Okay Pule, let’s leave it from there for today.
PM: …(inaudible) As if we don’t know what we are doing.
EM: Orally he is clear as mud, pulling the race card, andiyazi, andiyazi, andiyazi. I don’t know what’s going on here.