Mpumalanga tourism under investigation

2011-05-31 10:33

The Mpumalanga government has appointed accountants to investigate the state of the cash-strapped Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA).

The MTPA is a parastatal which falls under the Department of Economic Development Environment and Tourism (DEDET). It is responsible for promoting Mpumalanga’s tourism potential and is the custodian of nature reserves in the province.

DEDET MEC Norman Mokoena said today that he had appointed accounting firm Diale Maphothoma and Associates to make an assessment of the financial management, governance and compliance at the MTPA.

“The investigation of the consultants is meant to assist the department with an in-depth understanding of the problem statement that continues to negatively impact on the ability of the agency to effectively fulfil its mandates,” Mokoena said.

The MTPA’s chief executive, Charles Ndabeni, has been at loggerheads with workers over the past year for struggling to pay their salaries on time. The workers have been calling for Ndabeni’s dismissal.

Ndabeni has been complaining that MTPA was not receiving sufficient budget from the provincial DEDET. It has been allocated R212 million for the 2010/11 financial year, and staff salaries gobble up R198.4 million of the amount.

Last week, electricity at MTPA Nelspruit office and in some nature reserves was cut off.

The parastatal has also been failing to pay petrol for staff to perform their duties.

Mokoena said the investigation would study the funding model of MTPA since its inception in 2005.

He added that the probe will also look into the effect of the transfer of tourism development and conservation functions from DEDET.

“We acknowledge that there are problems at the MTPA, hence it is important that we must get to the bottom of the problems so that we can address the root cause,” Mokoena said.

MTPA spokesperson Kholofelo Nkambule was not immediately available for comment.

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