Patricia de Lille gave me 'unlawful instructions', claims suspended DG

Public works minister Patricia De Lille.
Public works minister Patricia De Lille.
Image: Esa Alexander

Suspended public works director-general Sam Vukela has accused minister Patricia de Lille of issuing him with “unlawful and unreasonable instructions”, leading to the duo’s fallout.

This is contained in an explosive court application filed on Monday by Vukela seeking to interdict the disciplinary process against him and for the court to declare the process unlawful, unconstitutional and invalid.

Vukela argues that De Lille has on several occasions instructed him to appoint certain companies to do work for the department, instructions which he claims to have refused to carry out, leading to the minister pushing for his removal.

He believes that this culminated in his suspension and the instituting of the disciplinary processes against him.

Vukela accused De Lille of trying to force him to interfere with procurement processes.

“The minister does not have the authority to dictate who should be appointed to render a service on behalf of the department, let alone dictating to me who I should award a contract to,” charged Vukela.

Detailing the occasions when De Lille apparently issued “illegal instructions” to him, he claimed De Lille on June 28 last year “instructed me to appoint a particular company specialising in global superior facility and property management for a period of three months”.

This instruction, he said, came as a surprise to him as it was a “clear interference by the minister in the administration and supply chain management processes of the department”.

On July 16 last year, Vukela said, De Lille instructed him to appoint a company for a period of three months to conduct daily monitoring of current affairs.

“I declined to appoint the company as instructed,” he said.

After his refusal to carry out the two instructions, Vukela said an angry De Lille called him in September 2019, accusing him of undermining her by refusing to do what he was told.

“She said I was working against her by refusing to appoint companies she has instructed me to appoint,” said Vukela.

He believes that since the phone call, his relationship with the minister had reached a point of no return.

After that, De Lille “became aggressive and combative towards me during meetings”.

During one meeting, he added, De Lille said she would personally appoint the companies Vukela had refused to appoint.

Vukela goes on to blame De Lille for the controversial project to erect and maintain the Beitbridge border fence.

According to him, De Lille exerted undue pressure on department officials to the point that she deployed her adviser to do a site visit.

“However, when questions were raised about how the border fence was erected, the minister was quick to pronounce that she does not get involved in the procurement processes of the department.

“She would blame everyone other than herself when things do not go according to plan.”

Vukela also accused De Lille of having approved the leasing of government land on several occasions without following the correct supply chain processes.

The last straw that broke the camel’s back was in May this year, Vukela claimed, when De Lille instructed him to put a stop to the use of implementing agents for the delivery of projects undertaken by the department.

“I advised her to allow me to make an assessment of the effects of the implementing bodies so as to report back to her about the outcome which she did not accept,” he said.

The second part of Vukela’s application questions the delegation of powers to De Lille by President Cyril Ramaphosa to decide his (Vukela’s) fate.

He argued that Ramaphosa did this without having full knowledge about the fallout between him and De Lille, which makes the minister a conflicted party to handle the matter fairly and transparently.

“My view is that the minister has already predetermined the outcome of the disciplinary process and wants to see me dismissed at all costs.

“It appears that the president was not appraised of all the facts in this matter. If the president was appraised of all the facts in this matter, I doubt he would have delegated his power to discipline me to the minister.”

TimesLIVE


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