Ntlemeza roasted in Parliament over anti-corruption unit

2016-09-14 19:37
Berning Ntlemeza (Tammy Petersen, News24)

Berning Ntlemeza (Tammy Petersen, News24)

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Cape Town – Hawks head Lieutenant General Berning Ntlemeza and the Anti-Corruption Task Team (ACTT) were in the hot seat on Wednesday in Parliament where they were systematically grilled over how the seemingly unprepared unit was run.

The task team was briefing Parliament's Standing Committee on Public Accounts on their cases when they were called out over not being prepared for the meeting.

MPs accused the team, which included Ntlemeza and the National Prosecuting Agency's Nomgcobo Jiba, of a lacklustre performance and not taking their mandate seriously.

They were bombarded with questions relating to their deliverables and working structure, with MPs, sometimes harshly, not taking kindly to some of their responses.

This after the team asked for a break in the middle of the meeting in order to better prepare their responses.

This did not sit well with MPs who questioned if the team had met at all, if so when, and if their agenda was standard. 

Attendance a challenge

The MPs also wanted an accounting on who attended the meetings as various entities of the team, including performance management monitoring and evaluation, were absent from the Wednesday meeting.

Ntlemeza told the committee that the team met once a month and not all director generals attended.

They were happy if they got department chiefs, he said.

It seemed, MPs told him, that attendance then was "willy-nilly, flippant, and very ad hoc".

Committee chairperson Temba Godi said Ntlemeza, the head of the anti-corruption task team, seemed to have a minimalistic approach to managing it.

"As a chairperson of the ACTT I don't have control over departments. Unless Parliament can give me that authority to be the chief whip of those departments. Even now they are not here, I never received any phone call. We would like to answer all the questions, but some of the issues that affect accounting officers, I will be running short in answering that one," Ntlemeza said.

ANC MP Nyami Booi said it looked as if the task team did not take corruption seriously, and questioned why they should even be given money.

Lack of convictions

Jiba then told the committee that while the team met once a month, they did meet frequently on an operational level, depending on cases.

This, IFP MP Mkhuleko Hlengwa said, was even more confusing.

"Can the answers be forthright? You are now contradicting each other. Who are these strategic people that meet more than once? Can we put faces to names, here? Because we are now going back to square one," he said.

The task team had to field questions on their performance, which included the conviction of 399 government officials since 2014.

They were also grilled on the lack of convictions under the Public Finance Management Act, with MPs questioning why more department heads were not convicted for fraud committed under their watch.

The task team had to detail how they prioritised cases and how cases were reported to them.

They were also asked for clarity on convictions at state-owned enterprises, information they did not readily have and promised to provide to the committee by Wednesday, September 21.

The ongoing battle between the Hawks and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan was surprisingly not raised in the meeting. 

Read more on:    npa  |  berning ntlemeza  |  parliament 2016

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