Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has spoken out in support of Helen Zille after the Public Protector found that the premier had violated ethics code
Following the Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s finding yesterday that Helen Zille had violated the Constitution, Minister Angie Motshekga has spoken up in the defence of the Western Cape premier.
Briefly.co.za reported yesterday that Cameron Dugmore had laid a complaint with the Public Protector in 2017, saying that Zille had breached government code by influencing officials to allow for her son access to tablets purchased by the WC Department of Education.
Paul Maree, Zille’s son, had been tutoring underprivileged students at a local school for free and had used the 150 tablets in conjunction with his own project, which aimed to help improve the student's marks.
The Public Protector had noted that the project had benefitted many students, but maintained that the premier had ‘exposed herself to a risk of a conflict of interest’ between her responsibilities as an official and her own private interests.
The Minister of Basic Education had disagreed, saying that herself and the national education department had been aware of the project since its birth. Motshekga explained that considering there had been no financial benefit, there had been no conflict of interest.
"The ethics committee has to be guided by the law and the definition of 'conflict of interest'. If there's no personal benefit, then there can't be a conflict of interest.” she had explained.
"[The department] gets support from lots of different people in the education sector. Does this mean if such a person is a politician's child there is a 'conflict of interest', when there is no personal benefit?"
Helen Zille had claimed that her son had offered his services and time for free, in an effort to tutor matric pupils at schools in impoverished areas.
Zille also maintained that she had followed procedures in dealing with the matter, specifically to avoid the conflict of interest in question.
She also denied Dugmore’s claim that the tablets had been specifically purchased to benefit her son’s project, insisting that they had been part of a pre-approved batch meant for projects like her sons.
The Minister had further revealed that she had been pleased with the project as the department had been in need of ICT solutions such as Maree’s/
"We [Motshekga and Zille] were talking about it all the time since 2014/15. I said to Helen, let him [Maree] test it on as many learners as possible so that the lessons we learn from there we can share our experiences with other provinces. We encourage innovation. So, this is something we have been discussing all along – it was helpful for the education sector."
She went on to say that her department had regularly interacted with Zille for assistance with issues in the education sector.
The Minister said that it was the Public Protector’s duty to interpret the law, not what the ANC wanted.
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