Fresh assault on De Lille

Aide cries conflict of interest over drought adviser

06 December 2017 - 05:00 By Aphiwe Deklerk
Patricia de Lille.
Patricia de Lille.
Image: Lerato Maduna/Gallo Images

Patricia de Lille's right-hand man - the director of her office, Craig Kesson - has levelled fresh accusations against the Cape Town mayor.

In the latest instalment of the turmoil engulfing the city council's executive floor, Kesson accused De Lille of conflict of interest for allegedly employing a drought adviser who might benefit from the city's emergency water augmentation programme through a private company.

Kesson made the allegation in his submission explaining why he should not be suspended to a closed council meeting yesterday.

City manager Achmat Ebrahim and transport and urban development agency commissioner Melissa Whitehead also submitted reasons not to suspend them following allegations and counter-allegations of misconduct and corruption.

The council decided not to suspend the trio while an independent investigator probed the allegations.

In his submission, Kesson said: "I have subsequently learnt that the mayor obtained a nonexecutive director of the Development Bank of Southern Africa to provide her with financial advice for the [water resilience programme], despite such person sitting on a board of a company that would be a competitive bidder for project finance on the [programme] - which in my view is a clear conflict of interest."

He did not name the adviser - a woman - or the company he was referring to.

This is the second time Kesson has made allegations against De Lille. Last month he signed an affidavit alleging that the mayor had asked him to bury an allegation of
possible corruption involving a MyCiTi
bus contract.

De Lille has since told the city council
that she will respond to the allegations at a later stage.

Kesson said he had not seen terms of reference for the adviser, but had successfully avoided meeting her to avoid potential conflict of interest on his part.

Kesson was unveiled earlier this year as the city's chief resilience officer and his most urgent project was helping Cape Town avoid "Day Zero" - the day taps run dry.

His appointment was approved by a council meeting but in his submission yesterday he said De Lille had since sacked him from the programme.

Kesson's latest allegation comes amid a tense environment in the DA caucus in the city, with a number of the party's councillors pushing for De Lille's axing.

The outcome of the council's independent investigation - which will probe all allegations - is expected in a month's time.

The outcome of another investigation by the DA, which party insiders claimed will implicate De Lille in wrongdoing, is also expected soon.