Thursday, 10 November 2016

Oral question in the House to Minister Zulu - what will you do about Dr Mazwai's conflict of interest?

Yesterday I asked a question in the House during the Oral Questions session for Economics Cluster 5 which includes the Minister of Small Business Development, Lindiwe Zulu.

"Minister, a number of companies your department supported in the Eastern Cape are beneficiaries under the National Gazelles Programme.

The programme is managed by a private company, Mtiya Dynamics, to which your department paid R22 million rand in the current financial year.

I now discover that your special advisor, Dr Thami Mazwai, who devised the Gazelles Programme, owns 40% of the shares in Mtiya Dynamics.

How can you possibly condone your special advisor's conflict of interest, and what steps are you taking either to terminate his contract or force him to dispose of his shares with immediate effect?"

She responded with a long-winded defence, first saying it was the DTI which commissioned the Gazelles Programme before handing it over to the DSBD, then said Dr Mazwai is one of South Africa's most experienced practitioners in small business development and she needed his wisdom in her department, or words to this effect.

But then she played the race card by accusing me and the DA of only singling out black people for criticism and claims of corrupt practices. This drew howls of protest from the DA benches for its double standards and irrelevance to the issue.

It really is unfortunate that Minister Zulu should stoop so low. She should fess up, call on Dr Mazwai to sell his shares immediately, or suspend him until he does. Otherwise she is turning a blind eye to the possibility of corruption which has plagued her government from day one, continues to cost SA taxpayers millions and deprives the poor of resources they desperately need.

I have written to her demanding answers and will not let up until this issue is resolved.

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