Defence reports R1bn in irregular spending

2010-10-07 12:30

The department of defence’s annual report shows irregular expenditure of nearly R1 billion, almost half of it due to salary adjustments that were not approved through the proper channels.

The remainder is linked to the cancelled contract for eight Airbus A400 aircraft, housing allowances not properly approved and hiring consultants, Defence Secretary Mpumi Mpofu said today.

Mpofu said the department hoped that R480 million spent on improving the salaries of low-ranking soldiers would in coming weeks be given the green light by the relevant mandating committee of ministers.

The committee was sidestepped, she explained at a briefing on the 2009/10 yearly report, because the department believed that it would be sufficient to have the approval of the Interim National Defence Force Service Commission, which also recommended the increases.

“The department of defence was of the opinion that the interim service commission could deal with the matter because they were directly involved... it was an error of interpretation.”

Legal opinion was then sought.

It indicated that only the planned permanent service commission would be able to approve such decisions, and that body still had to be established once the Defence Amendment Bill was approved.

Mpofu, who took up her post in April, said the annual report showed that the department had made great strides towards Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu’s stated aim of getting a clean audit sheet.

Mpofu estimated that this could happen two years from now.

The department received one qualification from Auditor General Terence Nombembe for its 2009/10 audit, compared to six in 2008/09.

It relates to outstanding processes from that year, and to the billion rands’ worth of irregular spending.

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