Limpopo intervention: heads could roll

2012-01-19 10:46

Heads could roll over Limpopo’s finances, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said during a press conference in Polokwane.

Gordhan said forensic investigators would start work next week to investigate maladministration and World Cup-style fast-track courts would be on standby to prosecute wrong-doers.

Six cabinet ministers – Gordhan, Roy Padayachie (public service and administration), Sbu Ndebele (transport), Aaron Motsoaledi (health), Thulas Nxesi (public works) and Angie Motshekga (basic education) – and a deputy – Andries Nel (justice) – were given permission to leave the annual cabinet lekgotla in Bela Bela to address the press conference at the provincial treasury office in Polokwane this morning.

“We are not prepared to sit quietly and be the object of derision,” Gordhan said in reference to criticism against the take-over by officials and some politicians.

He slammed those who are apparently sabotaging services in Limpopo to protest against the national government’s intervention in five provincial departments.

Some caterers have, for example, been phoned up by people hostile to the intervention and told that they should not deliver food to hospitals because they would not get paid.

A furious Gordhan said the sabotage has been reported to law enforcement agencies. “It is unfair and unacceptable that people in hospitals go unfed (because of the reported sabotage). What does it say about our political morality if we are prepared to go to that extent to defend our political base?”

The political hostility is so great that local MECs did not attend the press conference, although Gordhan explained that by saying it was a national and not provincial press conference.

Gordhan said there was an estimated R2.2 billion shortfall in the province and the National Treasury team would have to find savings to make up for the shortfall.

National government intervened in December after the provincial treasury wanted to increase its overdraft at the SA Reserve Bank from R757 million to R1 billion.

He justified the intervention in Limpopo by saying no other province needed a bailout of R1 billion.

Over the weekend ANC treasurer-general Mathews Phosa slammed the intervention at a party rally in the province, saying people should bring proof of how service delivery had been adversely affected by the intervention.

Responding to criticism against the intervention, Gordhan said “the facts have spoken for themselves ... I don’t have time for

politics”.

He said: “In recent times the province was paying certain service providers eight times a month. The frequency of the payments did not provide for an opportunity for proper verification, nor did it permit proper management of cash.”

This would not be allowed to continue, but he promised that those who could provide proof of services delivered, would be paid in 30 days.

When asked how long the intervention would last, Gordhan said “as long as it takes to sort out matters”.

He said Parliament’s National Council of Provinces could review the intervention in six months’ time. “As cooperation levels improve, this could be finished sooner,” he said.


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