Agriculture treats Scopa ‘with utter contempt’

2012-02-09 00:00

THE provincial agriculture department yesterday snubbed the audit committee of the KZN Legislature when it sought answers about the department’s qualified annual report.

The standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) has reportedly written a letter to KZN Agriculture MEC Meshack Radebe following his and his officials’ failure to appear before this committee yesterday.

In a statement yesterday the Democratic Alliance spokesperson on agriculture, Radley Keys, said members of Scopa were treated with “utter contempt” by senior officials of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Environment by failing to attend an important meeting.

The meeting was due to scrutinise the department’s responses to queries raised by Scopa and the Auditor-General over the department’s audit report.

Department officials were also expected to answer to resolutions taken by Scopa on the queries raised.

“The DA views the absence of the MEC, not only at the Scopa hearing, but at the portfolio committee hearing held on Tuesday, as an insult to members of [the provincial] parliament,” said Keys.

“We support the decision by Scopa to address a letter to the MEC regarding the absence of all departmental senior managers and the MEC at Scopa’s meeting, and have requested that a copy be sent to the premier, given that it was he who recently appointed Radebe as Agriculture, Conservation and Environment MEC,” Keys said.

MEC Radebe said he missed the meeting because it clashed with the cabinet’s meeting, which takes place on Wednesdays.

He said: “I am going to investigate as to why senior department officials who were supposed to attend failed to do so.

“It’s unacceptable for officials to fail to attend a such a meeting as it’s not by choice, but it’s a must to attend as this committee plays an oversight role in the activities of the executive. One cannot condone this non-attendance,” Radebe said

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