Zuma's ducking and weaving on Public Protector's report - DA

Debbie Schafer asks why, for instance, Irene NEL in DPW KZN was not reinstated to her position

President is evading addressing real issues in Public Protectors report 

Further to the concerns raised yesterday by the DA Parliamentary Leader regarding the unconstitutionality of President Jacob Zuma's actions following his response to the Public Protectors report, an examination of the letter from the speaker reveals a number of other problems which need to be urgently addressed.

He refers to the Department of Public Works (DPW) inter alia instituting an audit of the supply chain management system, strengthening the capacity of the Legal Services Unit and reviewing the departmental delegations to ‘reduce high financial risk carried by delegations given to junior officials'.

The problems identified in the Public Protector's reports did not arise from defective supply chain policies or delegations to junior officials. Quite the contrary, General Cele revoked all delegations to juniors and ensured that it was only he who could approve contracts over R500, 000.00. Furthermore, there was no finding that there is anything wrong with the existing supply chain management procedures. The problem was that the existing procedures were not followed. It is therefore not the procedures that are at fault, but the senior individuals identified by the Public Protector.

It is good that the Department is looking to strengthen the capacity of the Legal Services Unit, given that they advised the Minister that, on the face of it, there was nothing wrong with the lease. In their defence, they did say that the opinion was subject to obtaining a senior counsel opinion, which confirmed the first Senior Counsel opinion obtained by the Department that the lease would in all likelihood be declared invalid by a competent court. However, the Minister chose to ignore both those opinions and proceed with the lease. How will changing the legal advisers help with that?

According to the President's letter, Minister Mahlangu-Nkabinde has placed a moratorium on the procurement of all goods and services for 6 months. This action compromises the functioning of every department for which the Department of Public Works procures goods and services and is as a result singularly unhelpful. What needs doing is careful compliance monitoring of the process, not further hampering of the already dysfunctional department.

In addition, we are concerned that the Public Protector's finding to reinstate Ms. Irene Nel in the Kwazulu-Natal DPW regional office has been ignored and replaced by a misguided effort to conduct a further investigation to probe the circumstances that led to her removal from her position. This completely undermines the Public Protector's findings.

It is quite clear that the President is evading addressing the real issues revealed in the report, which includes the misconduct of General Cele and Minister Mahlangu-Nkabinde.

Statement issued by Debbie Schafer MP, DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, August 11 2011

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