EC EDUCATION TO WRITE OFF R119M: DAILY DISPATCH

THE Eastern Cape education department will have to write off nearly R119-million as bad debt because it can’t provide adequate documentation.

This was revealed when department officials responded to questions by members of the provincial education portfolio committee stemming from the past financial year’s annual report.

The annual report stated that the department did not submit documentation to the auditor-general for staff debt amounting to R118.94m, relating to over-payment on salaries and leave gratuities.

DA education spokesman Edmund van Vuuren said incompetency and bad filing and archiving were major problems.

“That’s why the department continues to get disclaimers annually. There is also an element of fraudulent activities that cannot be ignored.

“It could happen that some of the workers paid back the department, but someone else received the payments.”

COPE provincial leader Sam Kwelita said record-keeping in the department was in a shambles.

In a report last week, the department was unable to account for billions of rands because it did not have any documentation.

“This exposes the department to fraud. They cannot explain how they got to the total of debt owed [R118.94m] and don’t even know who is owed and for how much.

“It’s clear that these workers are not in the system and not in their manual books.”

Chief financial officer Philisa Mdikane told MPLS that the department planned to write off staff debt because it was unable to track down documents relating to which employees owed what.

“The majority of the staff debt is irrecoverable. A large portion was inherited from the former departments [in previous financial years].

“These were not accompanied with documentation. Other than the finance reports, the department does not have supporting documents for the majority of cases.

“These will have to be written off to clear the department’s books,” Mdikane said.

Portfolio committee chairman Mzoleli Mrara last week instructed the department to produce a list of the workers involved within seven days. He could not be reached to confirm whether or not the committee had received the list.

Last week, piles of documents were allegedly found dumped into shipping containers outside the head office in Zwelitsha. — msindisif@