De Lille saga: AG meets with Maimane over ‘unacceptable’ fake news posts

Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu says he has met with DA leader Mmusi Maimane about a fake news post, purportedly signed in his name, that made adverse findings against Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille.

News24 reported two weeks ago that a document shared by some senior members of the party on social media, entitled “De Lille exposed”, was a forgery.

READ MORE: AG confirms ‘De Lille exposed’ post is a fake

It listed three alleged contraventions of various municipal laws, including the Municipal Systems Act, by De Lille in her capacity as mayor, and drew the conclusion that “De Lille did not exercise her responsibility” in the procurement process of MyCiTi buses.

At the time, Makwetu’s office confirmed with News24 that the AG had not signed the document, as was alleged, nor did they know its origin.

Makwetu, who was updating the media in Parliament on Wednesday on his 2016/17 municipal report, told journalists that whoever created the document clearly did not know how his office worked.

“These are some of the things with people who do these things [create fake news]. Sometimes they don’t know we have rules in our institution that determines who can sign what.

READ MORE: Local government audits regress

“The delegation of authority regarding signatures in each of those provinces lies with the executive in each of those provinces.”

AG ‘seldom reports about any individual’

He, therefore, “does not come anywhere near” issuing and personally signing reports to a particular institution like the City of Cape Town.

“So I’ve since had a follow up with the leader of the Democratic Alliance last week, Mr Maimane, who agreed that it was unacceptable that a matter like that should arise.

“However, he has given his commitment that he has already instituted an internal investigation, the outcome of which he will advise as soon as it is concluded.”

His office still had a responsibility to issue audit opinions, and fake documents or false social media posts clouded the ability to communicate effectively.

“The last thing we want to do is go to a place where people who are creative enough to picture me signing something end up putting their signature on paper which bares no relevance to our own [processes].”

Makwetu once again clarified that his office “seldom reports about any individual”.

“You can imagine with some institutions that have 40 000 individuals, you can imagine we would spend an inordinate amount of time trying to report about a specific individual.

Audit downgrade

“So that forged thing was about a specific individual, which comes nowhere near the kind of work that we do.”

In his actual report, the City of Cape Town did receive an audit downgrade for the year in question under De Lille.

The report says that the metro was a good illustration of what happens when audit findings and messages are not acted upon with necessary vigour.

“The metro lost its clean audit status mainly as they did not report all allegations against senior management to the council, as well as ineffective controls over the revenue cycle that we had previously reported as an emerging risk.”

De Lille herself said she would lay complaints against at least two Members of Parliament, and some councillors, who are known to have shared the post.

READ MORE: De Lille to lay complaint over fake social media post

They include DA deputy chief whip Mike Waters and NCOP MP Bronwynn Engelbrecht.

‘Unfortunate’

Both Waters and Engelbrecht told News24 that they had initially seen the post on social media and had genuinely thought it was authentic.

They both bemoaned the fact that the document had in fact been altered.

The DA had initially said, on May 8, that it was open to probing the circumstances that led to some of its members sharing the post, but only after the police investigated it first.

DA federal executive member Natasha Mazzone had said the fake news post was “unfortunate”, but was not official DA content and not used in their formal charges against De Lille.

Members who shared it had “fallen victim” to fake news, she said.

The party’s main findings against De Lille can be found on its website.

Maimane was not immediately available for comment, as he was participating in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s budget debate in the National Assembly. — News 24

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