Patricia de Lille’s cover up and inaction was indirectly responsible for Parliament burning down

Issued by Natasha Mazzone MP – Chief Whip of the Official Opposition
14 Jan 2022 in News

Please find attached soundbite by Natasha Mazzone MP.

The Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure Patricia De Lille’s poor attempt at covering up her complicity in the burning down of Parliament, by strenuously trying to stop the release of the independent audit report by BDO and insisting that it was ‘irrelevant’, makes her continued stay as a Cabinet Minister completely untenable. President Cyril Ramaphosa must dismiss her immediately.

Findings from an October 2020 Audit Report by audit firm BDO, on the ‘Review of Parliament Prestige Construction Projects Performance’, has confirmed that the Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, Patricia de Lille, must be held directly responsible for the fire that burned down Parliament and tore through one of the key institutions of our constitutional democracy. This report was finally, after continuous pressure by the DA, released by Parliament late last night.

According to the report, which was handed to De Lille in September 2021, three months before the devastating fire, Parliament was left severely exposed to disaster due to:

  • Non-compliance with fire regulations;
  • Ventilation system design and fire protection in the Precinct needs to be reviewed by a fire consultant;
  • Lack of site safety management; and
  • Lack of quality management on refurbishment and upgrade projects.

The BDO report made a particularly damning finding on the inadequacy of fire control measures in Parliament buildings when it observed that:

“During the site visit to the NCOP building… on 21 September, it was noted that… the NCOP’s sprinkler system has not been operational for some time. As these buildings (Parliament), contains significant amount of wood, it is concerning that there seems to be no automated fire systems in place to protect these buildings from destruction in case of fire”.

The scandal here is that, after being presented with these findings, De Lille did not take any corrective steps to address the issues raised. Instead of doing her job to protect a national key point, she instead started to look for ways to stop the report from going public.

These findings point to gross negligence and a failure, at Ministerial level, to adequately maintain and protect a national key point. Instead of owning up to her costly dereliction of duty, de Lille lied that it was irrelevant. It was only after sustained DA pressure and the costly damage that her poor attempt at cover up, that the report has eventually been released.

The BDO report confirms, beyond any reasonable doubt, that de Lille should never have been made a Minister.

The DA gives credit to the City of Cape Town’s Fire Department, without whom the damage could have been far worse. Ramaphosa’s rightly praised the efficiency with which they conducted themselves in containing the fire from causing further damage.