How Limpopo went bankrupt
Andrew Trench, Thanduxolo Jika and Jeanne van der Merwe
Johannesburg - The
auditor-general’s report into the state of Limpopo’s affairs reads like a
manual on how not to run a government.
It contains a damning indictment of the province’s political leadership, which
is blamed for the mess.
The auditor-general’s general report on the outcome of the Limpopo government
audit for the 2010/11 financial year provides more detail on the apocalyptic
picture painted by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan this week as he described a
province nearly R3bn in the red and with civil servants fomenting
The scale of the administration rescue that confronts the national government
in Premier Cassel Mathale’s province is spelled out in the audit’s overview, in
which the Limpopo education, health and public works departments feature as the
- State procurement in Limpopo - which has been in the spotlight over the rise
and influence of ANC Youth League-connected “tenderpreneurs” was riddled
with corruption and irregularities, and contracts to state officials.
- In the education department, supporting documents could not be provided to
auditors for more than 600 contracts worth more than R150m that had been
awarded to state officials. Auditors couldn’t determine if 27 public works
contracts had been awarded legally - or what their value was.
- In the health department, 11 contracts worth more than R25m were
awarded to state officials. One state official scored an education department
contract worth nearly R4.5m.
- The reports show that contracts were awarded to bidders “who are known to
have committed a corrupt or fraudulent act in competing for the contract”. It did
not say who these bidders were.
- Business was also given to bidders who did not provide tax clearance
certificates and to bidders who had not completed “conflict of interest”
declarations about their ties to state officials.
- The province’s information technology systems were a mess, with gaping
security holes and little to prevent access to and tampering with financial
- Political oversight of official spending had utterly collapsed. Limpopo’s
Standing Committee on Public Accounts was a year behind reviewing yearly
reports and two years behind “tabling corrective action”.
The report observed: “During the discussion of the prior years’ outcomes, the
Premier (Mathale) undertook to ensure that Scopa decisions were implemented
without intimidation. This commitment, however, becomes meaningless if no
decisions are taken.”
Meanwhile, the Limpopo education department revealed for the first time why no
books were ordered: it was out of cash. Although a new curriculum requiring new
textbooks was being introduced countrywide for Grades 1 to 3 and Grade 10,
several publishers confirmed that the province had yet to order textbooks.