South Africa: DA Calls On Parliament to Summons Minister De Lille to Account for Her Advisor, Melissa Whitehead's Alleged Involvement in Beitbridge 'Washing Line' Debacle

press release

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will request that the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure summons the Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, Patricia De Lille, to appear before Parliament and provide answers regarding the allegations that her staff members including her advisor, Melissa Whitehead, were closely involved in several discussions around the R37 million Beitbridge Border fence upgrade project.

Minister De Lille has on several occasions absolved herself from any responsibility regarding the millions in public funds which was squandered on what can only be described as a "washing line". Instead, she pointed blame at officials in her department.

However, the alleged involvement of staff in Minister De Lille's private office, particularly her advisor, Ms Whitehead, in discussions around the upgrade of the fence, including site visits, instructions for variation orders and decisions regarding the scope, costing and specifications of the R1 million/km fence, shows that Minister De Lille may have been economical with the truth in her vehement denial of being closely involved in the project.

Surely if staff in her private office were so closely involved in the multi-million rand project, the Minister must have been aware of the details surrounding the project?

This information regarding her advisor's involvement demonstrates the Minister's seeming duplicity and confirms that she will do anything to escape accountability, even when those matters are happening under her very nose.

Parliament has a responsibility to hold the Executive accountable. The Minister must therefore appear before the committee to give an honest account and provide clarity on the matter of the R37 million "washing line".

The DA will also push for the Committee Chairperson to request that the Auditor-General (A-G), Special Investigative Unit (SIU), and National Treasury reports into the matter be tabled before Parliament for scrutiny.

We will certainly not allow for the questions surrounding this Beitbridge Border fence debacle to go unanswered and for Minister De Lille to continue hoodwinking the people of South Africa any further.

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