Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Samantha Graham-Maré MP.
Almost 3 years after Minister Patricia de Lille’s failed Beitbridge Border Fence, both the Minister and her erstwhile Advisor, Melissa Whitehead have evaded sanctions.
Instead of being reprimanded De Lille has been moved to the Department of Tourism and Ms Whitehead is no longer employed by the Public Service.
While several officials have been issued written warnings, and some from the National Bid Adjudication Committee suspended without pay for between one and three months, De Lille is yet to face the music.
The Beitbridge border fence process emanated from a directive issued by Minister De Lille that clearly identified the companies to be appointed without allowing for proper procurement processes to take place. The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) also found that Ms Whitehead had acted inappropriately by being involved in the project with site visits, instructions for variation orders, and decisions about the scope, cost, and specifications of the fence. All of these fall outside of her scope of employment as a Special Advisor.
The Auditor-General has reported that there is no evidence of any disciplinary action being taken against Ms Whitehead, despite claims by De Lille. Furthermore, there are indications that Ms Whitehead has left the Public Service, which would prevent any further disciplinary action being taken against her.
There is no political will to hold minister De Lille accountable for her pivotal role in the embarrassing and wasteful expenditure of the Beitbridge fence.
We will not allow this matter to be forgotten and will continue to investigate the Minister’s involvement and influence in the R37 million scandal until she is held to account.