Beneficiaries of dodgy tenders impugning us – Limpopo administrator

2014-06-20 08:56

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People who are unhappy that his team had put a stop to the illegal awarding of tenders in Limpopo are using the media to “impugn the reputation of officials sent to clean up the mess”, government’s chief administrator Monde Tom has said.

Administrators were sent to the province by national government as part of its intervention to save the Limpopo government from near-collapse in 2011.

Tom called a press briefing in Polokwane yesterday during which he broke his silence after a spate of media reports suggesting that his team was not performing as well as it wanted the public to believe.

It has also been reported that tenders were being issued under questionable circumstances under the noses of administrators.

Limpopo Premier Stan Mathabatha recently commended administrators for a job well done but said his province was ready to stand on its own.

It is understood, however, that the administrators’ extended stay in Limpopo was not sitting well with the political leadership, including MECs who felt that the administrators were denying them the freedom to exercise their powers.

Administrators have also been blamed for delaying service delivery because everything has to be approved by them before procurement can happen.

Tom said when they were sent to Limpopo, their “immediate objective was to stem the bleeding of cash”.

“This was achieved through a number of ways, including curbing frivolous expenditure such as wanton expenditure on catering and travelling as well as ensuring that enough cash reserves were built,” he said.

Tom said before he had arrived, the provincial treasury had been weakened and “turned into a money machine dispensing payments a number of times a month instead of two times”.

“Some of these payments were done without valid contracts in place and in almost all cases, there was no time to verify invoices and check if the service had been performed to the right standard. This was at the behest of the then executive council [led by former premier Cassel Mathale] which had passed a resolution to that effect,” he said.

“The province had accumulated an unauthorised expenditure bill of R2.7 billion and was on the verge of a financial crisis. In addition, departments ignored the legal prescripts pertaining to the management of tenders and mostly chose to manipulate huge value tenders where a few connected individuals benefited.”

Tom said in the more than two years since his team’s arrival, Limpopo now “has a good story to tell about the state of health of its government administration.

“The intervention has achieved a lot in the period it has been here. The integrity of financial management processes has been restored and the surplus cash has been attained. The overdraft of over R600 million should be addressed by 2015,” he said.

Chief director of provincial budget analysis Edgar Sishi, who was also present at the press briefing, said the intervention wiped out a R1.7 billion overdraft within six months and turned it into a R4.7 billion surplus for Limpopo. He added that the intervention took Limpopo from R1.1 billion in unpaid invoices on their arrival to R80 million now.

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