Cogta warns of abuse of ‘emergency deviations’

2014-07-10 00:00

DODGY municipal procurement practises are coming under the scrutiny of the KZN Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta).

The department will also be cracking the whip on the excessive use of “emergency deviations” to avoid having to go out to tender.

These issues featured prominently in a two-day municipal finance mini-conference hosted by Cogta in Durban.

Cogta MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube said emergency deviations had previously been targeted by the provincial Treasury in respect of government departments.

She said out of 61 KZN municipalities, 13 recorded that goods were procured using the emergency deviation from normal rules.

Dube-Ncube said one municipality recorded the highest number of emergency deviations, 88, and another recorded the highest monetary volume of such transactions which amounted to over R43 029 440.

Asked to provide the names of the municipalities involved, her spokesperson Lennox Mabaso ­declined to name them, saying at this stage they were merely used as examples.

“It is important to note that emergency deviations from the normal procurement procedures are acceptable and legal provided they are justified by a genuine emergency or unavailability of required goods and services from multiple providers,” the MEC said.

She added that using the emergency procurement procedure does not constitute any maladministration, fraud or corruption.

However, Dube-Ncube cautioned municipalities against over-using this provision.

She warned that KZN Cogta, in partnership with the office of the auditor-general, would continue to exercise strong oversight over the application of these deviations and ensure that their application is limited to justifiable circumstances.

“Our role as Cogta is to ensure that all audit queries raised by the Auditor-General are responded to by municipalities and appropriate action to rectify irregularities is taken by municipal councils. Now, however, we have gone one step further to put pressure on municipal chief financial officers to use emergency deviations strictly in line with the regulation.”

The current Cogta initiative is to help municipalities to achieve clean audits. The MEC said her department would provide hands-on support to municipal managements as well as their oversight bodies.

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