Scopa: Defence dept a time bomb
Pieter du Toit
Cape Town - Minister of Defence Lindiwe Sisulu will be asked to explain to members of Parliament what exactly is going on in her department after senior management there were asked to leave Parliament for the second time in a few months.
"The department of defence is a time bomb… it is strategically important and is responsible for all of our safety, but we don't know what they are doing!" said a furious Mandla Mbili (ANC) at a meeting of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) on Wednesday.
This followed after the acting secretary of defence, Tsepe Motumi and several senior accounting officers were unable to answer questions about the department's qualified audit opinion from the Auditor General.
This related to irregularities regarding the purchase and awarding of tenders as well as millions of rand in wasted and unexplained spending.
Motumi and his colleagues were asked to come back when they were better prepared.
Mbili and Sarah Mangena (ANC) lost patience when Motumi couldn't explain why no action had been taken against officials who did not keep record of millions of rand spent on consultants.
The AG singled this out as one of the reasons why the department had received a negative audit opinion for the umpteenth time.
Motumi and his colleagues were also asked to leave by MPs on the portfolio committee for defence at the end of last year.
Since she was appointed minister, Sisulu had on at least two occasions failed to attend meetings of portfolio committees on important matters such as the AG's annual report.
Motumi had to offer excuses on more than one occasion because the minister was not there herself to answer questions from MPs.
DA members Mark Steele and David Maynier asked President Jacob Zuma to intervene and replace Motumi as he was not "up to his job and MPs had no faith in him.
"It is inexplicable why we don't receive co-operation when it is clear that there are huge problems in the department.
"It would appear, for example, that the head of logistics awarded tenders to companies in which he had interests that he had not declared.
"These are serious matters. We cannot wait any longer to find out what is going on….things cannot be allowed to continue like this," Mbilli said to his colleagues.
ANC MP and chairperson of the defence committee, Mnyami Booi, said it was clear the department had no respect for Parliament.
"We try to help with matters like a better budget but you don't give us answers…don't expect any help in future."