The land of impunity

Think of what would happen if you, dear City Press reader, defrauded the company you work for, were underqualified for your job, and then, at crunch time, hired consultants to do the work you had been paid to do.

You might get fired – but many civil servants are doing just that and facing no consequences.

Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu revealed this shocking state of affairs this week in his 2013/14 consolidated audit report for all provincial and national government departments, and their entities.

His team found a number of human resources practitioners among the 165 departments and 304 public entities they audited who complained that they received no assistance from their bosses in “consequence management”.

In 39 departments, disciplinary steps were never taken against officials who made or permitted unauthorised, irregular, and fruitless and wasteful expenditure. Allegations of financial misconduct against department heads and senior officials in 26 departments were not investigated.

In nine departments, disciplinary steps were not taken against department heads and senior officials who were found to have committed financial misconduct. And in 10 departments, allegations of fraud, corruption, improper conduct or failure to comply with tender laws were simply not investigated.

But that’s not all. In 57 departments, the qualifications of new appointees were not verified.

A total of 39 departments blamed the R386?million they had spent on consultants to help sort out their books before they handed them to Makwetu’s auditors, on a lack of skills, vacancies in key posts – or both.

Particularly galling was the wasted money. Half of the R1.6?billion incurred in fruitless and wasteful expenditure was spent to prevent more cash being wasted.

Much of it went on cancelling the contracts of underperforming suppliers.

A total of R405 million was frittered away on reprinting publications “due to negligence”, and travel, accommodation and training bookings that were not used.

Welcome to the land of impunity. It won’t change until the politicians at the top of the chain take control and do their jobs properly – and who knows how long that will take?

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