Athol Trollip (MPL)
Leader of the official opposition in the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature
The office of Premier Phumulo Masualle has finally responded to a straightforward question put to him about the transfer of departmental funds to his personal bank account.
The issue of the irregular transfer of money as it was done in this case should be dealt with, with more than a reprimand, as it was this infraction that caused the premier acute embarrassment and not the questions or statements issued by me on behalf of the DA.
The question was answered by MEC Helen Sauls-August on behalf of the Premier.
In a follow-up question, I asked if the transfer of R250 000,00 from the department to the Premier’s private bank account was done according to the prescripts of the Ministerial Handbook (chapter 12, section 9 (1) as stated in the reply), why was it necessary to reprimand the relevant officials responsible? And, if the officials needed to be reprimanded, how was this decision reached in the absence of an investigation?
It seems amazing that this simple question has created such “controversy” and the issue around why the original question was edited to the extent that it was remains relevant and salient.
The issue now is, what step will be taken to avoid, in the words of the ANC Chief Whip, that “it was an administrative blunder” in future. The officials charged with drafting member’s questions should be made aware that such actions can give rise to serious consequences.
This is reminiscent of a historical situation in the National Assembly where a nationalist minister once accused Helen Suzman, the sole representative of the Progressive Party at the time, of embarrassing the government by the questions she asked. Her retort was that it was not the questions she asked that embarrassed the government, but rather their answers that did this.
The ANC-government should pay more attention to holding people to account for what they are supposed to do. If they did this, they would save themselves much embarrassment.