IFP: ‘Lock up Agric officials’

2009-10-07 00:00

MEMBERS of the provincial standing committee on public accounts, (Scopa) have called for legal action to be taken against officials of the Agriculture Department who are fingered in a damning forensic report released in 2007.

The forensic investigation by accounting firm Ernst & Young implicates 15 departmental officials and recommended that they be disciplined for various offences, including misamanagement and financial irregularities.

It is recommended that the department makes financial recovery from seven service providers also fingered in the report. Unauthorised over-expenditure in the 2006/2007 financial year, and the fact that 185 documents that were not provided to the auditor-general because they had gone missing, contributed to the department receiving a disclaimer audit opinion.

Opposition parties in the KwaZulu-Natal legislature, the IFP and the DA, called for the implicated officials to be charged, either criminally or in terms of the Provincial Finance Management Act (PFMA).

The IFP wrote to the Scopa chairman calling for the full forensic report.

Said committee member Alex Hamilton (IFP), “The report has been held back from us for three years.

“There are those (departmental officials) who are walking around free instead of being locked up,”

DA caucus leader John Steenhuisen said that if there are criminal charges against the implicated officials they should be brought.

Speaking to The Witness, acting head of department Siddiq Adam said disciplinary hearings have been held and some implicated officials were issued final warnings.

He added that the department is in the process of recovering money from some officials who were implicated by the report.

Financial irregularities in the department began in 2006 when it emerged that it had overspent its budget by more than R125 million and that more than R85,5 million had gone missing.

The then MEC, Gabriel Ndabandaba, was removed from his position as a result of corruption in the department.

His head of department, Jabulani Mjwara, resigned just a few days before the sitting of his disciplinary hearing relating to the over-expenditure.

Adam told the committee that the department is struggling to find the missing documents that outline how the money was spent.

In his report to the committee, Adam said that part of the R85,5 million in unauthorised expenditure was used for a failed mushroom and rice project that resulted from a visit to China by department officials. The project, which cost R3,6 million, was launched without feasibility studies being conducted.

There was also a R17,2 million planting and ploughing project in the northern part of the province, R10,9 million spent on the Nongoma farm project (King Zwelithini’s farms), which were targeted as flagship projects to encourage women and youth to farm.

According to Scopa resolutions, the report on over-expenditure was not made available then to the relevant officials in the department for action to be taken against people implicated in the alleged irregularities, negligence and mismanagement.

The committee yesterday authorised R8,6 million of the R85,5 million over-expenditure on classical swine fever, which broke out during the 2005/06 financial year.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.