‘Most corrupt’ department gets second clean audit and brings staff to book

2012-10-29 00:00

THE KZN Social Development Department — long perceived as one of the most corrupt in the province — appears to be cleaning up its act, having received its second consecutive unqualified audit after getting eight qualified audits since 2001.

On Friday, MEC Wezi Thusi told the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) that she was aware of a perception that the department was the most corrupt. However, she said, there had been sweeping changes to right the wrongs of the past. These included a concern by the Auditor- General (A-G) over irregular expenditure of over R100 million due to proper procurement processes not being followed.

Thusi confirmed earlier reports to the legislature that all officials in the department’s supply chain management (SCM) unit had been removed and that a senior official of the unit had been dismissed and was facing criminal charges.

The province’s Accountant-General, Herman Conradie, said the Treasury was running the department’s supply chain management until it has had a chance to restructure.

“We even found somebody doing similar things (flouting supply chain management regulations) right under the noses of treasury,” Conradie said.

He added that the department had cancelled a security contract and a number of catering contracts.

The A-G had also expressed concern over inadequate controls in transfer payments made to non-profit organisations. Thusi said they were working hard at resolving the matter and the department’s interventions included checks and balances to ensure the problem did not recur.

Scopa members heard that culprits implicated in the controversial sustainable livelihood project, a matter that has been under the spotlight since 2008, were finally in court.

The sustainable livelihood project was aimed at basic agriculture and small business development projects for poor families and for the youth.

It was found that much of the money had been misappropriated and had not been used as intended.

Social Development Department head, Bheki Nkosi, said the case was currently in court and that a number of people had accepted liability and would pay back money. However, he added, there had been problems in recovering all the money, with some people being declared insolvent.

In 2009, an investigation into the project had found 179 people were implicated and that millions of rand needed to be recovered from them.

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