Johannesburg - A vigorous debate has been raging on Twitter since Public Protector Busiswe Mkhwebane released her report saying that Western Cape Premier Helen Zille violated the Executive Ethics Code by assisting her son borrow tablets from the Western Cape Education Department.
Zille’s son Paul Maree is a director of Paper Video, a company that loaded teaching material onto tablets purchased via the education department. The devices were returned to the department.
ANC MPL Cameron Dugmore had filed a complaint with Mkhwebane alleging Maree unduly benefited from his relationship to the premier.
Mkhwebane found that Zille’s conduct gave him an “unfair advantage” and ordered Speaker of the legislature, Sharna Fernandez, to take steps to hold Zille to account within 30 days. She also ordered President Cyril Ramaphosa to submit his comment on the report within 14 days.
Zille said she will take Public Protector Busiswe Mkhwebane’s report, which accused her of violating the Constitution, on full review.
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga told News24 on Thursday that she and her department were aware of Maree's project since the beginning, and that there was no financial benefit, and consequently 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," Motshekga said.
DA leader Mmusi Maine tweeted: Public Protector’s finding on @helenzille is strange, to say the least, because Helen’s son was going beyond the call to deliver a valuable public service in the school holiday, for absolutely no benefit. Her obsession with “balance” is actually just bias.
Public Protector’s finding on @helenzille is strange, to say the least, because Helen’s son was going beyond the call to deliver a valuable public service in the school holiday, for absolutely no benefit. Her obsession with “balance” is actually just bias.— Mmusi Maimane (@MmusiMaimane) December 19, 2018
Others also had their say:
Help me understand this Tumi. @helenzille’s son was running a math program for kids in townships and WC govt provided tablets i.e to the kids enrolled in the program and Mkhwebane says this violated the constitution? Or am I getting it wrong? https://t.co/iiPMJGujng— Palesa Morudu (@palesa_morudu) December 19, 2018
Paul Maree, #HelenZille son registered the company immediately after the project that was funded by WC gov. His company, Paper Video is a profitable venture now. In his profile he indicates that in 2014 after this project they experienced a massive expansion.— Ntuthuko Makhombothi (@IamMakhombothi) December 20, 2018
You know when your mom is amongst the ladies dishing at a funeral you get a fat ass plate ? Thats what #HelenZille did— C H R I S (@Aah_Bhukula) December 19, 2018
I think the people that keep pointing out the "Noble act" of Helen's son as way to dismiss the fact that he received resources without going through the necessary channels have clearly never tried or gone through the process of trying to raise money for an NGO. #HelenZille— kwanda (@kwanda_Mkalipi) December 20, 2018