Arts and Culture in firing line

2013-10-31 00:00

THE KZN Arts and Culture Department received a rap on the knuckles over the appointment of employees without first verifying their qualifications.

They also failed to pay suppliers within the agreed period.

On Tuesday the department appeared before the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) to answer questions on the Auditor-General’s report for 2012/13.

The department regressed from an unqualified audit opinion that was obtained for three financial years in a row, to a qualified audit opinion.

The Auditor-General found that the department hired its staff without verifying their qualifications.

“Employees were appointed without following a proper process to verify the claims made in their applications in contravention of public service regulations,” the report said.

The department was also found to have no adequate procedures and systems in place to maintain records of the books in libraries.

It also did not pay its service providers within the 30-day or agreed period, among other things.

Head of department Sibongile Nzimande said the department verified qualifications with the South African Qualification Authority (SAQA) as soon as a candidate was recommended for appointment, but the authority was slow in responding.

Jeff Jafta, senior manager for human resources, said those then found to be without the necessary qualifications were subjected to disciplinary hearings.

On non-payment of service providers, Nzimande said a payment certification form has been designed for use when services have been rendered so as to help monitor payments.

The IFP’s Les Govender said the department should verify qualification of candidates before making appointments.

“You don’t appoint and then verify the qualification and then find there is something wrong and then go to a disciplinary hearing. Why go through all of that … ? Govender said.

The IFP’s Lindani Mncwango said it was sad to see small businesspeople suffering at the hands of officials who did not do their jobs.

Committee chair Sipho Nkosi said the department undermined the directive of President Jacob Zuma and Finance MEC Ina Cronjé that suppliers be paid within 30 days.

“For you to be found wanting on that one and killing service providers is unacceptable,” Nkosi said.

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