An MEC’s alleged travel claim of more than R1 million, 70% of a project budget spent on logistics and only 30% benefiting the people and endless allegations of tender irregularities.
These are some of the things that North West Premier Job Mokgoro, heard from the provincial legislature chairpersons’ forum in a virtual meeting this week.
The premier later acknowledged that all was not well and elaborated how the situation had gotten out of hand in the province.
The chairpersons from various committees shared with Mokgoro how they were struggling to get members of his executive as well accounting officers to appear before the committees and account – especially on finances. Tender irregularities, power struggles over municipal leadership which comes with control of the purse strings as well as municipalities’ poor audit performances were also highlighted.
After about four hours of listening to frustrated chairperson during the virtual meeting on Tuesday, Mokgoro expressed his own unhappiness with the state of governance in a province he leads. The premier is allegedly working on getting the political buy-in before he reshuffles his cabinet because of the poor performance of some MECs.
He agreed with the chairpersons’ sentiments that service delivery plans highlighted in his state of the province address had not happened.
Mokgoro emphasized the importance of “implementing our own accountability measures and tracking our own performance”.
“The relationship between expenditure and [service] delivery to communities is an inverse one … higher in spending and lower in deliverables to the people,” he said.
Job Dliso, a member of the forum, told Mokgoro that things were not looking good in the province and could get worse. He called for there to be consequences for wrongdoers, accountability without fear or favour and serious work to reverse bad audit performance by municipalities, especially those that had now improved even after being placed under administration.
“The status quo is bad. Things are looking good on paper but it’s a different story on the ground, [it’s] a disaster,” Dliso said.
“Unless we jerk up and pull up our socks, this province will remain stagnant on issues raised by the Auditor-General. There is no friendship, there is no targeting someone when it comes to accountability,” he said.
Bitsa Lenkopane and Mmoloki Cwaile also raised the issue of an MEC who allegedly claimed R1 090 000 in travel allowance for using her own vehicle. They said this was way above the R750 000 recommended in the ministerial handbook.
Lenkopane asked for an investigation into why the MEC used her personal vehicle and claimed so much. “They [MECs] travel a lot [and] if the claim now is at R1 million, where will it be after five years [at the end of term of office]?,”she asked.
Both Cwaile and Lenkopane told Mokgoro they were unhappy with the North West Parks Board where a “board member was now an acting CEO” in what Lenkopane described as “a confusion”.
Lenkopane then turned to the agriculture and rural development department. She said beneficiaries were not drawing much from the food security project, claiming that 70% of the budget was spent on event logistics such as catering and marquees leaving less than 30% for beneficiaries.
Other members also expressed their unhappiness that tenders in the North West were being awarded to companies from outside the province. “What concerned chairpersons the most was the role of Section 100 administrators in the haemorrhage of economic opportunities to other provinces to the disadvantage of local economic development and local businesses,” Cwaile said.
Mokgoro agreed that this should not be happening. He cited several departments which he said had awarded more than 50% of their tenders to companies from outside the province at the expense of local companies in what he said were “some stark realities”.
“I feel greatly embarrassed … we end up with that kind of situation because our procurement is in terms of personal gain and not in terms of service delivery. I will ask departments to give reports on how they are spending but the agenda is not about the people of this province but the I, me and myself,” Mokgoro said.
He was clearly not happy with the status quo but the question is: Will Mokgoro reshuffle his cabinet as anticipated?