North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo has applauded the provincial legislature’s standing committee for its “robustness” and “straightness” following the grilling of his office about more than R100 million in irregular expenditure.
The awarding of tenders without competitive bids and huge payments that could not be substantiated were also issues that the number one office in the province was taken to task on.
Mahumapelo’s office is the latest to feel the wrath of the provincial legislature’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) over dubious transactions involving state money.
The premier and his administration have been hard at work in recent days managing what has become an ugly public relations disaster for the province amid scandals which include a report that the health department made a R30 million prepayment to a Gupta-linked company, Mediosa, for the services of a “high-tech” mobile clinic months before the company started doing any work.
Another R103 million prepayment was made to a Mpumalanga-based company to fix flood-damaged roads across the province last year. And yet another one in IT has emerged in which a company was paid millions of rands while there was allegedly not much to show for it.
The premier’s office, led by provincial director-general Dr Lydia Sebego who took the tough questions while Mahumapelo sat next to her taking notes, was earlier on Tuesday questioned over concerns raised by the Auditor General in its 2016/17 financial year audit report.
The following were cited in the audit report:
• Goods and services of a transaction value above R500 000 were procured without inviting competitive bids, as required by Treasury regulations. Deviations were approved by the accounting officer even though it was not impractical to invite competitive bids, in contravention of Treasury Regulation 16A6.4. Similar non-compliance was also reported in the prior year.
• More than R131 million of irregular expenditure incurred in the current financial year was as a result of the contravention of supply chain management legislation. 85% of this irregular expenditure was identified during the audit process and was not detected by the department’s monitoring processes
• The department made payments of about R112 million in contravention of the supply chain management requirements which were not included in the irregular expenditure disclosed. Consequently, irregular expenditure as per note 31 to the financial statements was understated by R112 million
• Effective steps were not taken to prevent irregular expenditure.
Questions were also raised around an IT company which was appointed by the premier’s office.
It was heard in the same Scopa meeting that the company was awarded a contract to install Wi-Fi connections in libraries across the province.
Committee member Boitumelo Moiloa mentioned that the same company had procured some IT tool or gadget at R5 million per unit when the same was supposed to have cost R800 000 per unit.
The office of the premier was also asked to explain what was going on with the controversial Mediosa contract and the R103 million prepayment.
Sebego was swiftly reprimanded by the committee when she said the words “hullaballoo around” when responding to the question on Mediosa. She apologised but assured the committee that the matter was the subject of investigations.
The North West has recently found itself making headlines for all the wrong reasons with the latest being the bickering between Mahumapelo and Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi who was accused by Mahumapelo of visiting the province without informing him.
Motsoaledi visited the province last Friday on a fact finding mission during which he inspected two “high-tech” Mediosa mobile units and immediately thereafter announced that they were “not needed” by the health service.
Motsoaledi described the Mediosa service as “an ATM card through which the Guptas are withdrawing money from the department of health”.
Mahumapelo, who went for a radio interview on Motsweding FM after Tuesday’s Scopa meeting, told the radio station that President Cyril Ramaphosa had asked him and Motsoaledi not to publicly engage on the matter.