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Palm takes some leave

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The head of the Northern Cape Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, Ruth Palm, is out of the department . . . for now.

THE HEAD of the Northern Cape Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, Ruth Palm, is out of the department . . . for now.

This follows an announcement by Premier Zamani Saul stating that Palm had decided to take leave pending a review of the Public Protector’s report which implicated her in maladministration.

Saul was addressing members of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) at his office in Kimberley yesterday.

Nehawu members marched to the Office of the Premier to call for the immediate dismissal of Palm. Workers at the department have also downed tools calling for her removal.

The Public Protector, Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, said that the MEC for Sport, Arts and Culture, Bernixe Sinxeve, should take appropriate remedial action against Palm after she was implicated in improper conduct and maladministration relating to public funds of the department and the Northern Cape Arts and Culture Council (NCACC).

Mkhwebane released her findings following an investigation into the misuse of funds allocated to Traffic and Events Management Company (Traffic Events) who was organising the Umsobomvu Youth Tourism and Cultural event.

According to the report, R1 million was paid to the company for the festival that never took place. This payment was made after Palm apparently requested an amount of R1.6 million from the NCACC for the festival.

Saul yesterday said that when he read the report, he realised that something was very wrong.

“You do not need to be an expert to understand the Public Protector’s report. When we received the report from the Office of the Public Protector, I could pick up that something was wrong. The report was straightforward and easy to understand. The findings were also very clear,” said Saul.

He added that corruption in the Province was hampering service delivery. “We have massive challenges and limited resources available to fight these challenges. The provincial government has lost

R1 million and we now need to embark on a process to recover this money.

“The cultural and creative industries, during a meeting, indicated they only receive R700 000 annually to do their work. That

R1 million can be used to boost the arts industry in the Province. If we do not stop the corruption train now we will never achieve the goals we have set for ourselves.

“If we steal, we are stealing from the poor because that money is supposed to be utilised for them. That is the brutality of corruption. Corruption robs the poor of the limited resources available,” he said.

Saul, however, indicated that he was not in a position to remove Palm from office with immediate effect, as demanded by the union.

“The HOD has taken the report up for review. It is within her right to do so. I will have to respect that decision and wait for the outcome of that review before I can make any decision. I cannot use a report that has been challenged on review to suspend the HOD. I cannot pre-empt the outcome of the review.

“The HOD has sent us all the documents to prove that she is challenging the report. We all need to wait patiently for the outcome of the review,” he said.

The branch chairperson of Nehawu in the department, Victor Modise, called on workers to return to their posts.

“We have achieved what we wanted . . . we have been calling for Palm to be placed on leave and our call was adhered to. We will return to work but will not let this matter slide. Palm must remain on leave until the finalisation of her review. When her leave ends, we will start again,” said Modise.