OFFICIALS RESPONSIBLE FOR SECRETARY’S DAY SCANDAL MUST BE SACKED

Officials from the Eastern Cape Department of Transport should be sacked for their financial mismanagement. Episodes such as the departmental Secretary’s Day celebration-scandal, which had cost R 325 000, consisting luxurious accommodation, gifts and the like is but one example.

With a department budget of R 2, 8 billion during the last financial year, a staggering 5% of the budget was squandered or mismanaged by the department.

If one adds a further R71, 5 million to the un-reconciled projects as stated in the Auditor General report on the annual performance of the department for the last financial year, then this figure rises to 8% of the total annual for the budget. This is a conservative amount, based on a few large figures taken from examples in the department’s annual report.

The Auditor General has for a second consecutive year given this department a qualified audit.

The department was penalised by Fleet Africa for late payment of fleet vehicle accounts. Information suggests that a penalty in excess of R1 million was applied when a seven-day time limit, as agreed to in the contract, was not properly adhered to. The payments were being effected up to 30 days. This is fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

The pitiful saga does not end there.

A further R5 million of public money earmarked for a research study for animal drawn transportation has not been accounted for. Where is this money?

The department also has a legal claim pending against it for several millions from a contractor. This claim was instituted as a result of variation orders to the contract being granted illegally. In addition, the person who signed the contract was a junior official apparently not authorised to sign such contracts.

A government garage was upgraded in the Nelson Mandela Metro, costing R12 million. This garage will now be used for 2010 parking. This was not the mandate of the Province but of the contractor – yet the province spent the money to erect the garage.

The suspicions surrounding the new Phakisa Fleet Management contract is now being investigated by the Auditor General.

Interns are being employed when there is no budget to employ them.

The cherry on top is an amount of R 227 000 spent to print 500 glossy copies of the Annual Report, calculating to R455 per book.

If this were a business in the private sector and a Chief Financial Officer or an Accounting Officer produced such a report, that person would probably be criminally charged and sacked with immediate effect.

In the Public Finance Management Act No1 of 1999 under Chapter 7 titled “Executive Authorities” section 63 titled “Financial Responsibilities of executive authorities” sub paragraph (1) (a) it states that “Executive authorities of departments must perform their statutory functions within the limits of the funds authorised for the relevant vote.”

This has not been done in several instances and staff responsible for financial mismanagement in the department should be sacked forthwith. If action is not taken against officials and the culture of maladministration, this department will continue to be faced with irregular financial management issues.

The DA will be asking questions and will not let up until clear answers are provided as to what improvements are in place, the consequences to employees as a result of this mess and we will explore other avenues to ensure such a financial mess does not occur again.

Employees must be fit for purpose – this means able, qualified, capable employees employed on merit and who can do the work irrespective of party political persuasion.

There must be on going public engagement on how such monies are spent in a transparent manner as mandated by the PFMA.

For further information, please contact Dacre Haddon, MPL on 0796943788