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Minister De Lille scapegoats DPWI officials over Beitbridge Border Fence debacle

by Samantha Graham-Maré MP - DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure

In response to a Parliamentary question by my colleague, Adrian Roos MP, regarding the procurement process that was followed in the R37.2 million Beitbridge Border Post fence, Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, Patricia De Lille, once again absolves herself from any responsibility.

Instead of answering the question directly, the Minister, in her usual fashion, hid behind responses such as the ”Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) provided [her] with the following information” and the ”DPWI informed [her] as following”.

It seems as though she has forgotten that as the Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, she is, in fact, the head of the DPWI and not a passive bystander.

Minister De Lille clearly does not want to take any responsibility for her role in the Beitbridge fence debacle and has chosen instead to throw officials in her Department under the bus.

If she is serious about her role in the Executive, then Minister De Lille would know not to cherry-pick the matters which she will account for, especially when those issues are happening under her leadership. She did exactly the same thing when confronted about the mismanagement of quarantine sites, even going as far as accusing officials within the DPWI of operating a ”scam”.

No matter how much she tries to escape accountability, she was ultimately the political head overseeing the entire process and for that, she has to account.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will, therefore, submit further Parliamentary questions to the Minister for further clarity on matters surrounding the Beitbridge Border fence scandal to find out the following:

  •     At what point was she involved in the decision-making process of the fence;
  •     Who gave the final approval for the procurement to go ahead;
  •     Was she receiving any updates on the progress of the build programme and if so; and
  •     What action did she take when red flags started to pop up?

Minister De Lille’s refusal to take responsibility for her Department squandering taxpayer money on the Beitbridge ”washing line” is something that is fast becoming a common theme – she is never at fault and she always places the blame elsewhere.

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