The Bushbuckridge Local Municipality council in Mpumalanga insists that it received value for money on R182 million in irregular, unauthorised fruitless and wasteful expenditure.
The ANC-led council decided to write off the amount last month because it had not been getting good opinions from the Auditor-General (AG) .
Although irregular expenditure does not necessarily mean money was wasted or fraud committed, it happens when supply chain processes and legislation are flouted, and calls for an investigation to determine whether such expenditure arose from an error, negligence or was done intentionally.
Negligence, if proven, may lead to disciplinary action against the implicated official, civil action to recover the money, cancellation of a contract or a criminal case may be opened.
Unauthorised expenditure is done when there was no budget for such a project or there was overspending, while fruitless and wasteful expenditure occurs when payment is made in vain and could have been avoided if an official exercised care.
The ANC voted in favour of writing off the R182 million in irregular, unauthorised, fruitless and wasteful expenditure for the 2014/15, 2015/16, 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19 financial years, broken down as follows:
- R334 706 of fruitless and wasteful expenditure in 2015/16;
- R27.2 million of fruitless and wasteful expenditure in 2016/17;
- R72.3 million of irregular expenditure incurred in 2016/17;
- R45.2 million unauthorised expenditure in 2017/18;
- R14.9 million fruitless and wasteful expenditure in 2017/18; and
- R22.8 million of fruitless and wasteful expenditure in 2018/19.
Bushbuckridge municipal spokesperson Claiton Khosa insisted that the municipality lost nothing in the transactions on which the AG raised red flags.
“It should be noted that the municipality was given value for money and that there is tangible evidence that the municipality put taxpayers’ money to good use,” said Khosa.
He could not, however, explain why would the AG raised these expenditures as a problem.
The Municipal Public Accounts Committee has, in a report which City Press has seen, recommended that municipal manager Cynthia Nkuna should institute disciplinary action and criminal proceedings must be instituted against those officials who committed financial misconduct.
The DA is not happy with the writing off of the expenditures. DA councillor Khunjulwa Pilane said: “We are considering getting the council’s decision reviewed. By just condoning and writing off these amounts, the municipality is showing a lack of both consequence management and accountability, and showing that it is okay to incur unnecessary expenses. Writing off millions to get a clean audit outcome is similar to fraud,” Pilane said.