Scopa decries private company preventing Parliament from doing its work

2017-06-15 21:36
Scopa Chairperson Themba Godi (Netwerk24)

Scopa Chairperson Themba Godi (Netwerk24)

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Cape Town - MPs from both the African National Congress and Democratic Alliance serving on the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) decried that a court order by a private company prevented Parliament from doing its work.

On Wednesday evening, the commissioner of correctional services, his management team and Justice and Correctional Services Minister Advocate Michael Masutha appeared before Scopa to address irregular expenditure of R494m accumulated from the 2011/2012 financial year.

Included in the R494m was a controversial contract with Integritron for an integrated inmate management system (IIMS).

News24 reported in 2016 how Modise defied requests, by National Treasury's chief procurement officer, to review the processes followed in awarding a contract for this system to Integritron Integrated Solutions.

National Treasury instructed Modise to cancel the contract. Any fruitless and wasteful expenditure incurred through cancelling the contract should be recovered from Modise personally, it said.

Court interdict

The Auditor-General has since found several irregularities with the contract.

In 2016, Integritron got a court interdict preventing Masutha from publicly speaking about or acting on the Treasury report. Its lawyers on Tuesday sent Scopa a letter to "urge that the matter not be debated in an open forum".

Scopa proceeded nonetheless.

Chairperson Themba Godi said they would not deal with the Treasury report.

"There is no way Parliament must be squeezed in fulfilling its role," ANC whip in Scopa Nyami Booi said on Wednesday night. "The officers in front of us are paid by the state; [there's] no way Parliament can be told not to hold them to account."

DA MP Tim Brauteseth described it as an "egregious breach of Parliament's work" and said the department is "completely offside.

"I just need to make it absolutely clear: This matter will not go away. I find it remarkable that a supplier to government is thwarting the work of Parliament."

On Thursday, Booi released a press statement on behalf of the ANC members of Scopa, expressing their concern with the lack of proper financial management and accountability in the department of correctional services.

Department 'bankrupt'

"The most disappointing development from this hearing was our inability as parliamentarians to properly probe the financials of the department as we were informed of an interdict against the minister and department on a matter relating to a tender to a private company," reads Booi's statement.

"Such developments affect Parliament's ability to conduct proper oversight. We look forward to the speedy resolution of this legal matter in order to ensure that those found to have been involved in any wrongdoing are held accountable."

He also expressed his concern at the "alarming number of accruals" that have skyrocketed to the amount of R134m to suppliers and "that the department appears to be bankrupt.

"The Auditor-General (AG) has in the past raised serious concerns about the financial state of the department, which in our view appears to have been ignored with no attempt at putting in place corrective measures."

He was not satisfied with the information the department presented to Scopa on their investigations into the irregular expenditure.

"The commissioner, Mr Zach Modise, also seems to have ignored concerns raised by the Presidency in a letter that was addressed to the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) on issues relating to the department," said Booi.

"The ongoing mismanagement, lack of accountability and possible corruption at the DCS are quite disturbing. We, therefore, reiterate our call that the minister of justice and correctional services comrade Michael Masutha act against the Commissioner and his officials."

When questioned by Brauteseth, Modise could not explain why his car was seen parked outside the house of one Integritron's shareholders, Geoff Greyling. Modise admitted to knowing Greyling, but denied that they are friends or did business together.


Read more on:    parliament  |  da  |  anc  |  cape town

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