Premier warns officials

2014-10-17 00:00

KWAZULU-NATAL Premier Senzo Mchunu yesterday put civil servants on notice, warning those who abused the public purse would collapse the government.

He was addressing a room of heads of departments (HODs), supply chain managers and chief financial officers at Cedara outside Pietermaritzburg.

The premier took a swipe at civil servants who instead of being the keepers of the public purse used it to enrich themselves.

“Some of you want your bread buttered at the expense of the public purse. Some of you drive cars you didn’t quite buy and [for] some of you, money is accumulating in the bank you did not even work for,” he said.

Mchunu said the province’s borrowing had increased. “Supply chain managers have to ask questions before signing off things; chief financial officers need to think twice before spending money and HODs need to account when the money is not there,” he said.

Mchunu said finance management in the province was deteriorating.

“We are not showing good finance management as a province, it’s alarming,” he said.

Mchunu revealed the auditor- general found in some cases consultants were employed to perform core functions meant to be performed by employees.

“Fraud is not an error; it is a decision by you. It’s not something you stumble upon. You plan it,” he said.

He revealed in the 2012/13 financial year, 708 civil servants were reported to the police for fraud and corruption involving more than R30 million.

Of these, 546 were convicted and sentenced to varying terms of imprisonment.

In the first quarter of 2014 (April to June), 274 public servants were subjected to disciplinary hearings for grant-

related fraud and 78 for fraud and theft. The hearings are continuing.

Vanuja Maharaj from the KwaZulu-Natal office of the

auditor-general said the most common findings were:

• No declaration of interest on awards made to employees or close family members of employees;

•Awards to providers who are in the service of other state institutions where the provider did not declare an interest; and

•Competitive bids not being invited and where approved deviation were not reasonable or justifiable.

Maharaj said the departments of Health and Education were the highest contributors to irregular expenditure.

Finance MEC Belinda Scott said the bottom line was government would “not tolerate over-expenditure”.

“Do not write me letters saying you are having major cash flow problems.”

She said the province was facing financial difficulty and those departments over spending had to tighten their belts — or she would do it. “Don’t look to me to pay your service providers, I am not going to do your dirty work,” said Scott.

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