Patricia De Lille must explain 'washing line' Beitbridge border fence, says DA
PRETORIA – The DA is pushing Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille to brief Parliament on the "inadequate" R37 million Beitbridge border fence, intended to stop cross-border transmissions of Covid-19.
The DA’s Samantha Graham-Maré on Wednesday said the party would be writing to the chairperson of the portfolio committee on public works and infrastructure to request that De Lille be called to explain the construction.
“When asked about the matter in Tuesday’s home affairs portfolio committee meeting, Minister Aaron Motsoaledi failed to give any clarity and referred the matter back to the minister of public works [De Lille] to clarify," said Graham-Maré.
“It has widely been reported that the border fence at Beitbridge is laughably inadequate, and many questions have been raised about the process used to appoint the contractor responsible for building what can only be described as a 'washing line' to keep Covid-19 from reaching South Africa from Zimbabwe,” said Graham-Maré.
Last week, the DA said it had submitted questions to De Lille about the appointment of the contractor as well as the specifications of the fence and the value for money that South African taxpayers received.
“This fence sports a price tag of R37 million for 40km of fencing in need of repairs. If the money is not optimally spent to build a fence that will last lifetimes, it can be used to fill other holes that the Covid-19 pandemic has brought to light. There must therefore be no delay in getting clarification around the controversy surrounding the fence,” said Graham-Maré.
In March, De Lille announced that the construction of a new fence at the Beitbridge border between South Africa and Zimbabwe was starting and would be completed within 40 days.
"In terms of Section 27 (2) (l) of the Disaster Management Act, No. 57 of 2002, I have invoked emergency procurement procedures in relation to the erection and repairs of the border fences, east and west of the (Beitbridge) border post," De Lille said at the time.
The step followed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address to the nation when he declared a national State of Disaster in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, saying the country's borders would be secured, and the Department of Defence had asked that the fence be repaired for the shutdown.
However, earlier this month, De Lille said the newly erected fence had been damaged, and that units of the SANDF were being deployed to the border.
Photos circulating online showed that large holes had been cut into the multi-layered razor wire fence.