Zille ready to head to court after Mkhwebane's latest findings

Busisiwe Mkhwebane made the announcement at a briefing in Pretoria on Wednesday.

Western Cape Premier, Helen Zille hosted a press conference on 10 October 2018 to address various concerns about crime in the province. Picture: Cindy Archillies/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The Public Protector has found Western Cape Premier Helen Zille violated the Executive Members’ Ethics Code by exposing herself to a possible conflict of interest involving her son.

Busisiwe Mkhwebane made the announcement at a briefing in Pretoria on Wednesday.

Zille helped her son Paul Maree, who is a maths teacher in the province, loan tablets from the department to be used in extra maths lessons for matric pupils.

While Mkhwebane didn't find Zille influenced the contract to procure the tablets, she says Zille exposed herself to a potential conflict.

“By intervening in the execution of the contract for the delivery of the computers, in order to ensure that the son can use these tablets, she exposed herself to a risk of a conflict of interest between her official responsibilities and her private interests.”

In 2017, African National Congress member of the Western Cape Legislature Cameron Dugmore laid a complaint with the public protector's office, claiming Zille violated the provincial government's code of ethics by influencing officials to allow her son access to tablets purchased by the Western Cape Education Department.

The premier now says Mkhwebane's finding is irrational.

“He was offering matric revision classes to his own class, he went to the principal and said ‘would you mind if we gave them and other schools [the revision classes]’ and the principal said he should do that. He went o the other schools and found that the digital was not as good, he was not earning a cent for it, he volunteered his time.”

In a statement released earlier, Zille says she intends taking the findings on review in court.

"The Public Protector has once again reflected her severely limited understanding of the Constitution and the law, and I will, yet again, be taking her finding against me on review to the High Court."

She has rejected the Public Protector's findings: "I reject out of hand that there was any conflict of interest between my public role as premier and the fact that I supported my son, a mathematics teacher in Khayelitsha at the time, to borrow equipment of the Western Cape Education Department in order to run free matric preparation workshops in disadvantaged schools; and insofar as there may have been a perception of a conflict of interest, I fulfilled the requirements of the law in mitigating it."

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)