Double Standards in Consequences of State Attorney’s Report Ahead of Election of Western Cape Speaker

ActionSA is in possession of a forensic investigation report commissioned by the State Attorney which comes to the conclusion that Deputy Speaker, Beverley Schafer, was found to have caused fruitless and wasteful expenditure – the same charges levelled against former Speaker Masizole Mnqasela. 

Of significance to the people of the Western Cape, Schafer is the presumptive DA Candidate for Speaker to be elected in the Western Cape Provincial Legislature.  As to why the DA has failed to take similar action against Schafer, as they did against Mnqasela, is a matter for the DA to clarify.

The State Attorney’s Report makes the following findings against Schafer:

  1. Ms Schafer had used a BMW X5 vehicle despite the fact that the Western Cape Provincial Parliament had previously procured an Audi Q5 on a long lease as the official vehicle for the Deputy Speaker.
  2. Ms Schafer continued to use the BMW X5 notwithstanding that it was an additional cost to the Western Cape Provincial Parliament which also had to pay for the monthly hire of the Audi Q5 at the same time.
  3. Even though the Handbook on the Benefits and Privileges for Members of the Western Cape Provincial Cabinet specified that the Deputy Speaker was only entitled to use one official vehicle, the Western Cape Provincial Parliament was effectively paying for two vehicles for her for the period 1 July 2019 to 6 December 2019.
  4. Ms Schafer was requested to return the BMW X5 on several occasions, but she refused to do so.
  5. Ms Schafer’s reasons for refusing to return the vehicle included that the Audi Q5 did not suit her needs and that it did not have a bicycle towbar.  The investigation found that none of the reasons given by Ms Schafer constituted a valid legal reason for refusing to return the BMW X5.
  6. Ms Schafer’s use of the BMW X5 resulted in fruitless and wasteful expenditure amounting to R158 297.86.
  7. The investigation found that Ms Schafer’s version of events “lacked both credibility and reliability in several material respects.” 

The Office of the State Attorney recommended that the Speaker submit a complaint about Ms Schafer to the Conduct Committee, and that the fruitless and wasteful expenditure incurred be recovered from her.

It is noteworthy that, despite the serious findings made by the Office of the State Attorney of misconduct and the lack of credibility, the DA did not bring a Motion of No Confidence to remove Ms Schafer from her position of Deputy Speaker.  This failure is, at best, evidence of factionalism and double standards within the DA and will undoubtedly be perceived as racist by the people of South Africa and of the Western Cape when juxtaposed with the Masizole Mnqasela matter.

Instead, the DA is likely to propose Ms Schafer as its candidate for Speaker of the Western Cape Provincial Legislature. This is unacceptable for a position which is essential to ensure that the Executive is held to account for its performance and conduct – something unlikely if the candidate has been politically shielded from accountability.

The unanswered question at this point in time, is whether Ms Schafer has paid back the R158 297.86 that was deemed necessary by the State Attorney’s investigation. Unfortunately, the DA is likely to use its majority to railroad Schafer’s election as Speaker in a legislature that has proven ineffective in shining a light on the failures of the DA in the Western Cape.

This is precisely why ActionSA is necessary in the Western Cape. The arrogance of majority has produced a situation where internal factional interests in the DA are manifesting in important governance issues in the Western Cape.

The notion that the DA governs best is relative only to the exceptionally low bar of the ANC. In many places in the Western Cape service delivery is no better than in ANC-run provinces, and now we see ANC-like tendencies in the handling of serious investigative reports.

This is why ActionSA has a vital role to play in this province, and why we will take our offer to every community in the Western Cape.