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DA joins call to suspend HOD

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” This is the second maladministration claim made against Palm in her capacity as a senior departmental official”

THE DA in the Northern Cape has joined the call for the immediate suspension of the Sport, Arts and Culture head of department (HOD), Ruth Palm, amidst allegations of maladministration.

This follows after Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane released her report on the investigation into allegations of improper conduct and maladministration relating to the allocation of R1 million to Traffic Events and Management Company (Traffic Events) by the Northern Cape Arts and Culture Council (NCACC) to organise the Umsobomvu Youth Tourism and Cultural Festival in December 2016.

The event never took place.

The Public Protector’s investigation found that Palm requested the NCACC to make a direct payment to Traffic Events to organise the event.

The DA spokesperson in the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, Ofentse Mokae, said in a statement yesterday that Palm’s previous record called for immediate dismissal or suspension.

“Operations at the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture have come to a halt for two weeks and counting, with staff downing tools until Palm steps down. This is the second maladministration claim made against Palm in her capacity as a senior departmental official. In 2012, Palm was implicated in defrauding the Department of Roads and Public Works of more than R47 million. According to the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) Section 83 (4), it states that financial misconduct is grounds for dismissal or suspension,” said Mokae.

He urged the MEC, Bernice Sinxeve, to urgently intervene in the matter.

Dark cloud

“While we understand that the Office of the Public Protector has given Sinxeve 60 days in which to take action against Palm, we believe it is only fitting that, while Palm has a dark cloud hanging over her head and remains in charge of the department, she be relieved of her duties until final resolutions have been made.

“Sinxeve also needs to ensure that stability is restored and operations within the department are brought back to normality. It is unacceptable for officials to earn a salary when they are not in office. The DA will again write to Sinxeve to ascertain what the current status of affairs is concerning Palm’s occupation of office.

“We cannot tolerate a situation whereby staff’s integrity is compromised and the business of the day is brought to a halt due to Sinxeve shying away from dealing with fraudsters in her department. State funds need to be accounted for to avoid maladministration and culprits need to be dealt with accordingly,” Mokae concluded.