'Would you resign?' MP asks Sanral board chair over R1.6bn in irregular spending

2016-11-29 15:35
Sanral staff wait outside their office in Midrand. (Jacaranda News via Twitter)

Sanral staff wait outside their office in Midrand. (Jacaranda News via Twitter)

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Cape Town - The South African National Roads Agency's (Sanral) management style was described as "the blind leading the blind" during a meeting with MPs on Tuesday.

The state-owned entity appeared before the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) for the second time this month, where it was again slammed for its casual attitude towards its R1.6bn in irregular spending.

"Would you resign? You and your board?" ANC MP Nyami Booi asked Sanral board chairperson Roshan Morar.

Everyone was taking money, everyone did not follow procedure, and nothing happened to them, EFF MP Ntombovuyo Mente said.  

The board was hauled over the coals for "weak leadership" as well as only giving out warning letters for serious transgressions.

The biggest contributing item to Sanral's irregular expenditure in the 2015/16 financial year was its procurement model for routine maintenance projects, which amounted to almost R1.5bn.

On Tuesday, Sanral was questioned on the amount of work it outsourced.

IFP MP Mkhuleko Hlengwa asked Sanral how much the entity was paying for outsourced audit reports.

"About R15 to R20m," the board told the committee.

But it did not pick up the mistakes in statements that had been picked up by the Auditor General (AG), because it was not part of its function.

Leniency on corruption

Morar was asked to account for various issues, including the problematic procurement model, sub-contractors not being registered companies, and the lack of response from Sanral to the AG's report.

To most of the questions from the committee, Morar responded that the board would have to gather its facts and respond at a later date.

Committee chairperson Themba Godi said the committee was averse "to this leniency on corruption".

Sanral had to remember it was a public entity that had to account to Parliament, he said.

"It's as if Sanral is a private company that has been called to Parliament. We need to change that, this is unacceptable to us."

But ANC MP Mnyamezeli Shedrack Booi was a lot more brutal in his summary of Sanral's appearance.

He told the board chair that his attitude towards the law was problematic.

No regard for the law

"You see sir, you, I'm talking to you. You have absolutely no regard for the law, and no respect for the law. That's where you stand as the chairperson of the board," Booi said.

Morar's attitude towards the irregular expenditure was worrying, and his disregard for government policy in allocating tenders was also a problem, Booi said.

"Your methodology is derailing BEE, you are doing your own thing, which is based on your own pricing. You have gone against us [government], we created that law of black empowerment, and it's a policy in government and your methodology is simply breaking the law," he said.

Morar was also slammed for the entity's response to hotline complaints received, which, it was said, were not being given the attention they deserved.

"That's why I would ask the Hawks to take this matter up. They are not meant for you, but they clearly speak to you, because you have no regard for the law. No respect for what happens in South Africa," Booi said.

"I would now like to ask you as a person, would you resign? When we come to a conclusion with the Hawks regarding the type of behaviour you have taken as an institution, with your board, because you have no regard for the law at all," the ANC MP told the board chair.

Transport Minister Dipuo Peters apologised to the committee for the board's unpreparedness and said the department took note of the issues raised.

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