Helen Zille violated ethics code by helping her son, says protector

19 December 2018 - 16:54 By KARYN MAUGHAN
Helen Zille has says education officials were fully aware that her son had used departmental tablets to give free maths lessons to children and she had written an e-mail saying the tablets should be made available to all NGOs or individuals who were offering extra-maths training. Picture: THE TIMES
Helen Zille has says education officials were fully aware that her son had used departmental tablets to give free maths lessons to children and she had written an e-mail saying the tablets should be made available to all NGOs or individuals who were offering extra-maths training. Picture: THE TIMES

Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has found that Western Cape premier Helen Zille violated the Executive Ethics Code by assisting her maths teacher son to borrow tablets from the province’s education department, so that he could offer extra maths lessons to disadvantaged matric students.

Zille’s son, Paul Maree, was not paid for the extra maths lessons, which he offered in Khayelitsha and surrounding areas in 2014. 

"The premier’s involvement in the process that has resulted in securing access to the tablets in question by her son, and in the acquiring of the son’s company’s services and resources, has exposed her to the risk of a conflict between her official responsibilities as a first citizen of the province and private interests which involved her son," Mkhwebane said.

"This has consequently resulted in the violation of her constitutional obligation to avoid an exposure to the aforesaid."

Mkhwebane said the rule of law had to be applied to every citizen in the country, and that Zille’s conduct had given her son an "unfair advantage".

Zille is understood to have vehemently denied that any such conflict of interest existed, as education officials were fully aware that Maree was her son and she had written an e-mail stating that the tablets should be made available to any NGOs or individuals seeking to offer extra maths training.

Zille tweeted on Wednesday that she was taking the matter on review.

Mkhwebane has ordered that the speaker of the Western Cape legislature "within 30 working days from the date of the report … take appropriate action to hold the premier accountable".

President Cyril Ramaphosa must submit his comment on the report within 14 days of  receiving it.

The investigation originated from a complaint made by Cameron Dugmore, the ANC’s candidate for the position of Western Cape premier. He initially alleged that Zille had advanced her son’s business interests with the procurement of tablets for the Western Cape education department.

These allegations were not proven during Mkhwebane’s investigation. 


X