The following speech was delivered during Parliament’s Debate of National Importance on Corruption related to Covid-19 tenders.
When the lockdown started, the President asked us to support this government and adhere to the regulations imposed by them. The country rallied. It’s what we do as a nation – we stand together in times of crisis.
At that time, Minister De Lille informed us that in order to protect our citizens from cross-border contamination, most of our Land Ports of Entry would be closed and our borders would be fortified – in particular, a 40km stretch around Beit Bridge on the border with Zimbabwe. She made it seem plausible.
And as lockdown continued, the people of this country suffered – socially and economically. But we rallied – strong in the belief that our government was acting in our best interests and in good faith.
And then the truth emerged that R40 million had been squandered on an ill-advised, rushed and woefully inadequate border fence that has come to be known as the Beitbridge Washing Line.
Minister De Lille went on the defensive (if you’ll excuse the pun). An investigation was underway. Heads would roll. The officials had overstepped. And not once, did she acknowledge that it was her directive that had set the entire process in motion. That her instructions were to expedite the procurement. That as a result, procurement processes were contravened. That a proper bidding process was circumvented. And that, as it turns out, this country was robbed of at least R14 million as a result. And that is merely the alleged overpayment on the project.
An SIU investigation is underway – at our cost. Three portfolio committees visited the washing line for oversight – at our cost. Legal processes have been instituted – at our cost.
It’s not just the incident of corruption that costs us. We pay for every case of corruption in myriad different ways. And it’s the people who pay. Not Minister De Lille who should already have been sanctioned by the President. But who continues to avoid answering the allegations as she passes the buck down the line.
We need to demand accountability from all our leaders for all forms of corruption, especially when so much has been asked of us and we have complied so willingly.
To quote author G Edward Griffin, “To oppose corruption in government is the highest obligation of patriotism.”
I am a patriot. The people who suffered under the lockdown regulations, who lost their jobs, who had their incomes cut – they are patriots.
Mr President, Minister De Lille… Are you?