No explanation yet for Shiceka's car crash - James Lorimer

Acting minister refuses to answer question while minister is on sick leave

Being ill means never having to say you're sorry

Acting Minister of Co-operative Governance, Nathi Mthethwa, has refused to answer a parliamentary question about a car crash which reportedly wrote off Minister Sicelo Shiceka's official car.

The Mail & Guardian newspaper reported in June that Shiceka's Mercedes-Benz, purchased at a cost of R670,000, had been crashed in Cape Town. At the time of the accident Shiceka was on sick leave and refused to say whether he had been in Cape Town or whether he had been driving the vehicle.

In an effort to establish the facts I submitted a written parliamentary question as to the status of the car and the circumstances of the crash. The response, signed by the Acting Minister and the department's Director-General, is as follows:

"We would like the honourable member to allow the Minister to recuperate as he is still on sick leave. It will be then that he is able to respond to the question as asked."

Since when does being sick give a Minister licence to fail to give a simple answer to a straightforward question? If he was really too ill to reply, he should have been relieved of his duties. He certainly should not have been out playing tennis.

This non-answer seems to indicate a number of things:

  • The car was involved in an accident.
  • The Minister may have been in the car, in Cape Town, at the time of the accident, despite being on sick leave.
  • That the current leadership of the department and ministry are not prepared to take responsibility for what happened to the car.
  • That if you are a Minister on sick leave then you are no longer answerable to parliament.

That no answers have been forthcoming indicates that Minister Shiceka does indeed have something to hide.

Minister Shiceka has been on sick leave since February. He has twice (in August and last week) declared himself fit enough to return to work. If that is the case, why is he not fit enough to answer questions about this car crash?

President Zuma needs to take action against Minister Shiceka. How long will South Africans have to wait? What will be the cost of further inaction?.

Statement issued by James Lorimer MP, DA Shadow Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, September 22 2011

Click here to sign up to receive our free daily headline email newsletter