Minister hampers public works, DA says

2011-10-03 21:22
Cape Town - Public Works Minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde's continued presence at the department was preventing it from completing the reforms needed to turn it around, says Democratic Alliance shadow Public Works Minister John Steenhuizen.

Reacting to the tabling of the department of public works annual report in Parliament on Monday, Steenhuizen said the fact that the Auditor General could not even form an opinion of the financial statements was a powerful illustration of the disarray at the department.

"The extent of the mismanagement in the public works department was recently highlighted by the public protector in her report into the two controversial SAPS lease deals.

The minister of public works, Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde, was found by the public protector to have acted in a way that was unlawful, improper and amounted to misconduct," Steenhuizen said.

He said Mahlangu-Mkabinde had used several tactics to avoid taking responsibility for the mess in her department.

These, Steenhuizen said, included: her failure, on two occasions, to appear before the public works portfolio committee to explain her involvement in the SAPS lease deal saga; an attempt to blame her department's disarray on her predecessors, saying that she "inherited a poisoned chalice";

Shifting the blame to the department's acting director general (AG), who has subsequently been suspended; and failing to co-operate with the public protector's investigation into the SAPS lease deals

Major problems noted by the AG included: unauthorised and irregular expenditure to the tune of R16.5m; a lack of audit evidence regarding the Department's immovable assets register; the department's involvement in a public private partnership for the leasing of vehicles that could not be verified or accounted for.

Material underspending of the budget and conditional grants; material losses of some R54.8m; an inability to obtain evidence of some R1.3bn worth of capital transactions reported in the department's books; an inability to obtain evidence of some R819m worth of goods and service-related transactions reported in the department's books.

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