Blankets scandal: KZN Social Development Department given deadline for full report

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KZN Social Development MEC Nonhlahla Khoza.
KZN Social Development MEC Nonhlahla Khoza.

The KwaZulu-Natal Legislature watchdog committee, Scopa, has given the provincial Social Development Department until the end of the month to hand over the explosive blanket-scandal report, believed to implicate high ranking officials.

The report, which was compiled by provincial Treasury officials who investigated the department’s irregular procurement of 48 000 blankets at more R20 million, has already resulted in the suspension of several senior officials.

However, sources told The Witness that the full report was not being made public as it contained names of several other high-ranking officials, including politicians whose involvement in the blanket saga has so far been kept under wraps.

But Scopa, which held its meeting on Tuesday, was not budging, saying it needed to gain access to the full report to fulfil its role of holding the department to account.

“There are issues of procedure and if these are not followed it could compromise the process to hold those who have been implicated to account.”
KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala's spokesperson Lennox Mabaso

“We need to know the specifics. We want to know what the report’s recommendations are so that we can be able to hold the department to account,” chairperson Maggie Govender said.

Among other things, the provincial Treasury investigators found that Social Development officials had flouted the rules by paying service providers before delivery, with some companies paid millions of rands despite not having supplied any blankets.

Shortly after the release of the report by Premier Sihle Zikalala in July, Scopa wrote to him requesting that the full report be forwarded to the watchdog committee. However, three months later, Zikalala is yet to handover the full report to the committee.

Govender said Scopa’s request that the premier should release the full report to the committee still stood. “What we have also done this time around was to request the provincial Social Development Department to give us the report. We are aware that they do have the report, otherwise how will they implement the report’s recommendations,” she said.

READ | Blankets: guilty may have assets seized

While Zikalala assured the public that the full report would be released, he said there were processes that needed to be followed before it could be.

“There are issues of procedure and if these are not followed it could compromise the process to hold those who have been implicated to account,” his spokesperson, Lennox Mabaso, said.

So far Zikalala has only released an executive summary of the report.

Mabaso said that the priority was to ensure that institutions such as law enforcement agencies, which have a direct interest in the report, were provided with the document.

In her recent meeting with Scopa members, Social Development MEC Nonhlanhla Khoza assured the committee that the department would hand over the full report to the watchdog committee as requested.

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