MEC blames meddling politicians for dept’s woes

2010-10-27 00:00

AN emotional KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Social Development, Meshack Radebe, blamed political interference for the “mess” his department is in when he and his senior managers appeared before the provincial government’s oversight committee, the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa), in the KZN Legislature yesterday.

This was after committee members lambasted the department, saying that they were concerned about its recurring problems, including irregularities, overexpenditure and pending forensic investigations.

The department received adverse audits for the 2009/2010 financial year and the highlighted an unverified asset registration of R13,314 million. The Auditor-General could not obtain sufficient and appropriate audit evidence to confirm the existence and valuation of these assets.

The department declared irregular expenditure of R71,038 million due to non-compliance with supply chain management processes. Over-expenditure of R30,209 million has also been noted in this financial year. Also, the committee said about R1,3 million owed by staff was to be written off.

Scopa chairperson Makhosi Khoza said the committee is worried about the department.

Belinda Scott, also a committee member, asked Radebe if the posts in the department are occupied by the right people.

Radebe responded after the department’s management team had replied to a series of questions.

He alerted the committee to his emotional state, saying that he was concerned about the mess his department is in. “We are in this mess because we have politicians that are working with officials in this department,” he said.

He proposed that a confidential meeting be scheduled with Scopa members, saying that he would brief them as to why the department is in a mess.

He said he would name and shame the interfering politicians.

“I don’t know what these politicians who are working with officials are trying to achieve,” he said.

He said that he was in awe following his department winning two awards from P.M.R. Africa on Sunday. The department received a gold award for a provincial government department doing most for prosperity and growth, and a silver award for a department doing most to eradicate poverty.

He said he told himself when they received the awards that the organisers of the awards “don’t know what’s going on in that department”.

Democratic Alliance caucus leader John Steenhuisen said Radebe has lost control of his department. “The department has received its third qualified audit in as many years …

“No department can operate with a dispute between its political head and its administration and this matter needs to be resolved …”

Said Roman Liptak of the Inkatha Freedom Party, “The department has taken away some R30,2 million from its service delivery programmes to spend without authorisation on office leases, fleet management, security and the like during the 2009/2010 financial year.”

Radebe’s department is not the only one in trouble. When the Economic Development and Tourism Department also appeared before Scopa, committee members blamed its officials for leaking confidential reports to the media before they are discussed in the committee. The department’s representatives blamed politicians for soliciting confidential documents from the officials and leaking them.

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