Dying diggers of Namaqualand need saving
|by Ofentse Mokae, MPL – DA Northern Cape Provincial Spokesperson on Sport, Arts & Culture|
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|Date: 18 May 2020|
|Note to Editors: Please find attached soundbites in English & Afrikaans from Ofentse Mokae, MPL.The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Northern Cape is questioning the apparent return of the controversial Head of the Sport, Arts and Culture Department, Ruth Palm, to work. This comes after a recent Facebook post shows Palm at an official meeting with MEC Bernice Sinxeve and departmental officials.The DA finds it very strange that Palm is back at work without any communication relating to her return having been communicated to the respective legislature portfolio committee.Earlier this year, a report by the office of the Public Protector found Palm guilty of approving a payment of R1 million in 2016 to the Traffic Events company, for an event that never took place in 2017.|
This was the second maladministration claim made against Palm in her capacity as a senior departmental official. In 2012 Palm was implicated in defrauding the Department of Roads & Public Works of more than R47 million. The charges subsequently fell away.
In February, the DA called on MEC Sinxeve to immediately suspend Palm pending an internal investigation into the serious maladministration claims against her. Shortly thereafter, Premier Zamani Saul announced that Palm had decided to take leave pending a review of the Public Protector’s report.While it appears that Palm is now back at work, the DA has not received any feedback from the department.The current state of government, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, must not be used as a smokescreen to shirk good governance and responsibility on matters that require transparency.The DA will request a special portfolio committee meeting to discuss the matters relating to Palm. We want to know why, despite the serious findings made by the Office of the Public Protector, no criminal charges have been opened against her.We cannot simply condone her return to work in the absence of answers. Palm serves in a high-profile position aand she is in charge of millions of rands of government funds. We need assurances that she is not being protected but rather that the departmental funds that she controls, are being protected from corruption and mismanagement.