Public Protector: Lynne Brown misled Parliament

Busisiwe Mkhwebane says President Cyril Ramaphosa should take action within 14 days against the Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown.


JOHANNESBURG - Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown inadvertently misled Parliament when she said a local consultancy firm linked to business friends of former President Jacob Zuma had no contracts with state power utility Eskom, the Public Protector said on Thursday.

New President Cyril Ramaphosa should take action within 14 days against Brown, whose department oversees enterprises including Eskom, said Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

“Minister Brown inadvertently misled Parliament in her assertion that there were no other contracts of engagement concluded between Eskom and Trillian,” said Mkhwebane in her report, adding that she breached a ministerial code of ethics.

Brown’s spokesman said he would issue a statement later.

This is the latest blow to a senior government official and comes as Ramaphosa is considering a cabinet reshuffle after replacing Zuma, whose rule was marred by a series of scandals.

Zuma’s business associates include three brothers from the Gupta family who have been accused of using their political connections to win state contracts and influence cabinet appointments. Zuma and the Gupta brothers deny wrongdoing.

Opposition parties are insisting Ramaphosa fire Brown, with the Democratic Alliance (DA) saying she has acted with utter impunity for far too long .

DA Shadow Minister of Public Enterprises Natasha Mazzone says under Brown's leadership parastatals such as Eskom have been "financially ruined and ethically ruined" and she must be fired immediately.

“Basically our call has become an extremely urgent one for President Cyril Ramaphosa to act swiftly against the minister and immediately fire her from his cabinet.

“If the president is committed to building a government that beyond reproach, he must remove anyone who’s found guilty of unethical behaviour from his cabinet.”

The Congress of the People is also calling for Brown's head.

Ramaphosa replaced Zuma as head of the ruling African National Congress in December having pledged to fight official corruption. Last week the party elected him head of state as Zuma resigned under political pressure.