KZN Education praised for clean audit

2010-11-05 00:00

THE KwaZulu-Natal office of the Auditor-General showered the KZN Department of Education with praise “for a marked improvement in financial management and the control environment of the department over the last five years.”

The A-G’s office offered its praises yesterday when MEC for Education Senzo Mchunu and his department appeared before the KZN Legislature’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) to account for its financial report for the 2009/2010 financial year.

Mchunu’s department has received unqualified reports for the past three financial years, despite having a history of receiving disclaimers and qualified opinions.

“Good working relationships were reinforced and communication channels strengthened between the A-G’s staff, officials of the department, internal audit and audit committee members …” the A-G’s office told Scopa during the briefing which preceded the hearing.

Mchunu said the report marks a tremendous achievement by his department, but he pointed out the continued existence of unavoidable unauthorised expenditure as a “taint” on the clean report.

The department was found to have unauthorised expenditure of R253,2 million as a result of overspending on four programmes and irregular spendingof R32,3 million was incurred.

Almost half of the irregular expenditure was as a result of Ithala Development Corporation’s failure to comply with supply chain management procedures.

It was also found that the department had R130,4 million in statement accruals that exceeded the payment terms of 30 days.

Mchunu said that as a result of Ithala’s unscrupulous handling of its businesses, the department has decided to cut ties with it as an implementing agent of some of their projects like school building.

The department’s chief financial officer (CFO), Hlengiwe Mcuma, said unauthorised spending in some categories like the compensation of employees could not be avoided.

This, he said, is “because during the year a number of collective agreements were signed for which inadequate funding was allocated to the department”.

Mcuma said the department continues to lobby the provincial and national treasury regarding the funding.

“In addition, the agreements that are signed nationally need to take affordability into account …”

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