Minister under fire for calling on staff to avoid Parly meeting today

Siyabonga Cwele apparently ordered officials not to brief MPs at a meeting scheduled for today.

Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN - Telecommunications and Postal Services Minister Siyabonga Cwele has come under fire for apparently ordering his department officials not to go to Parliament to brief members at a meeting set down for today.

Department officials were scheduled to brief Parliament's telecommunications and postal services oversight committee on the country's broadband roll-out.

But the meeting could not go ahead because the officials didn't pitch.

The committee's been battling for months to get details of the long-delayed roll out from the department.

Committee chair Mmamoloko Kubayi was not amused by the department's no-show.

"I just feel that this is serious undermining of the portfolio committee and its work and is standing in the way of a constitutional obligation of the committee."

Kubayi says Cwele informed her that the briefing could not go ahead because broadband roll-out would form part of President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation Address next month and thus was off-limits.

Kubayi says she was told Cwele instructed his department and its entities not to attend today's briefing.

The committee has a constitutional mandate to oversee the work of the department, but according to Kubayi, three meetings set down for last year were 'not honoured'.