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Zille rejects Mkhwebane's findings she broke Executive Members' ethics code

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane said that Helen Zille had violated the Constitution by exposing herself to a situation involving a risk of conflict of interest between her public and private interests.

FILE: Western Cape Premier Helen Zille. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG/PRETORIA - Western Cape Premier Helen Zille has rejected a finding by the Public Protector that she violated the Executive Members' ethics code.

In a year-end briefing on Wednesday, Busisiwe Mkhwebane said that Zille had violated the Constitution by exposing herself to a situation involving a risk of conflict of interest between her public and private interests.

It relates to unpaid work done by Zille's son in Western Cape schools.

The African National Congress (ANC) laid the complaint saying that Zille had allowed her son access to tablets purchased by the provincial Education Department.

Zille has reacted to the finding, reiterating that her son was given no preferential treatment and that she would have treated any other legitimate volunteer the same way.

"My line of thought to assist most of the people, especially when I think that what they're doing will really benefit people, and if they're only borrowing tablets for free workshops in the holidays and if they're running as legitimate teachers at those free workshops, I will bend over backwards to help them."

The Public Protector also updated the media on a complaint against former Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, releasing a report that confirms a sporting goods supplier paid for a lavish family holiday to Dubai.

At the time, Mbalula has denied that he accepted any money, saying that he paid for the R680,000 trip out of his own pocket.

Mkhwebane found that Mbalula had accepted R300,000 rand from Sedgars and rejected his claim that the payment was a loan.

Neither Mbalula nor Sedgars have responded to a request for comment.

Mbalula has provided a highly improbable version of events to the Public Protector however it appears to have been for the most part accepted by Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

The former minister claims that his Dubai holiday was arranged through a travel agent by a Mr Siweya, out of his own volition, and that he never asked for the holiday.

Mbalula further claims that he never knew how much the entire trip had cost until two months later when the travel agent came asking for payment.

Mkhwebane says that Mbalula found himself unable to pay the funds and out of apparent desperation approached Yusuf Dockrat of Sedgars Sports for R300,000.

The advocate rejects the claim that it was a loan because R275,000 of it was paid back only after Eyewitness News broke the story.

Mbalula paid R150,000 in cash to the travel agent.

The matter has been referred to the authorities for possible corruption and money laundering investigations.

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