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South Africa: Why Has the President Not Taken Action Against De Lille?

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The Democratic Alliance (DA) wrote to President Cyril Ramaphosa to ask why he has not taken any decisive action against the Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, Patricia de Lille, given the long list of allegations that have been levelled against her.

This past week, further allegations emerged of Minister De Lille’s apparent incessant meddling in the procurement processes of her department.

Reports indicate that the Minister allegedly approved farming leases as part of the government’s programme to lease State-owned land to deserving emerging farmers, without following due diligence. She has also been accused by staff in the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) of using her Special Advisor, Nadine Fourie, to pay a construction contractor R40 million to refurbish a Department of Environmental Affairs’ research facility, Sanae IV in Antarctica, despite the fact that this company had overcharged the Department by R39 million before.

In addition to the abovementioned allegations, the Minister has also been accused of the following:

She has ducked and dived responsibility for the R37 million spent on the now infamous ‘Washing line’ Beitbridge Border fence. She allegedly flouted procedures and disregarded the law when she issued an emergency directive for the border fence two days before the State of Disaster was announced and emergency procurement protocols were enacted.

A National Treasury report found that “it would seem the Minister had a contract, supplier or contractor in mind” when she issued a variation order to seemingly ensure that a specific contractor, Magwa Construction was appointed.

In papers filed with the North Gauteng Division of the High Court, Minister De Lille, admitted to identifying a service provider for “special” media services in her department but said that she did not instruct anyone to break the law.

The Minister’s Special Advisor, Melissa Whitehead has been fingered in a SIU report for advising the Minister to issue directives without ensuring that the directive complies with the prescripts and legislation applicable to the emergency procurement process. The report recommended that Whitehead be charged with gross negligence for interfering in the administration of the DPWI.

The DA sent these allegations to the President and urge him to fire the Minister for her alleged malfeasance. President Ramaphosa can’t continue to talk tough on corruption and then turn a blind eye to wrongdoing right under his nose.

These allegations and findings have shown time and again that Minister De Lille seems to have no with problem being a constitutional delinquent and breaking the oath of her office. She seems to enjoy playing dictator in the DPWI and then tries to dodge allegations by blaming subordinates.

The President cannot afford to wait while the list grows before he takes action against her. Her actions have proven her unworthy of her office. It’s long past time for her to go.

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