The Democratic Alliance (DA) wants President Cyril Ramaphosa to fire Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille with immediate effect over the Parliament fire.
The party’s Chief Whip Natasha Mazzone has de Lille of “covering up her complicity in the burning down of Parliament, by strenuously trying to stop the release of the independent audit report by BDO and insisting that it was ‘irrelevant’.”
Findings from an October 2020 report by audit firm BDO on the ‘Review of Parliament Prestige Construction Projects Performance’ state that Parliament “was left severely exposed to disaster.”
According to the report, which was handed to De Lille in September 2021, three months before the devastating fire, Parliament was:
- Non-compliant with fire regulations;
- The ventilation system design and fire protection in the precinct needed to be reviewed by a fire consultant;
- Lack of site safety management; and
- Lack of quality management on refurbishment and upgrade projects.
The BDO report made a particularly damning finding on the inadequacy of fire control measures in Parliament buildings.
“On 21 September, it was noted that… the NCOP’s sprinkler system has not been operational for some time. As these buildings (Parliament) contains a significant amount of wood, it is concerning that there seem to be no automated fire systems in place to protect these buildings from destruction in case of fire”.
“The Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, Patricia de Lille, must be held directly responsible for the fire that burned down Parliament and tore through one of the key institutions of our constitutional democracy,” said Mazzone.
The DA says the report was finally, after continuous pressure, released by Parliament late on Thursday night.
“The scandal here is that, after being presented with these findings, de Lille did not take any corrective steps to address the issues raised.
“Instead of doing her job to protect a national key point, she instead started to look for ways to stop the report from going public,” said Mazzone.
Mazzone said de Lille was grossly negligent and failed as a government minister to maintain and protect a national key point adequately.
“Instead of owning up to her costly dereliction of duty, de Lille lied that it was irrelevant.
“It was only after sustained DA pressure and the costly damage that her poor attempt at a cover-up, that the report has eventually been released,” said Mazzone.
(Compiled by Narissa Subramoney)