Speech Notes: SCOPA Annual Report and Financial Oversight Debate

Shadow MEC for Education, Edmund Van Vuuren

Honourable Speaker, Honourable Premier, Honourable Members, dignitaries, visitors and Departmental officials – I humbly greet you.

Honourable Speaker, as members of the provincial legislature and as employees of the government, we are meant to be here to serve the people of the Eastern Cape by assisting in providing a better life for one and all by fighting corruption, by improving service delivery, by expediting fair access to job opportunities, and by keeping our communities safe. A one Eastern Cape for all – that should be our vision for a one province for all.

Madam Speaker, having analysed the SCOPA report for the 2017/18 financial year, I am very sad to say that this government, and many of its departmental employees, are enriching themselves instead of the people of the province to benefit.

The departments are riddled with the same recurring findings and there is no sign of action being taken in order to attempt to eradicate, or at the very least, minimise the damage caused by these findings.

A major theme that is evident in the reports for most of the provincial departments is that officials do not disclose personal or business interest in contracts that are awarded by the government. This is fraudulent and unacceptable, and yet, there is no evidence of the departments implementing any disciplinary action.

Honourable Speaker, this is the definition of self-enrichment and it is not being addressed aggressively enough by the departments, not by a long way. Unfortunately, the epidemic of corruption is growing year after year.

Many of the Departments have defaulted in obtaining competitive bids for transactions over R500 000. These Departments are defaulting on a Treasury Regulations year on year, but yet, there is no evidence that any disciplinary action is taken against such officials.

Honourable Speaker, consequence management is extraneous to our government officials. Consequence management has no relevance within the corridors of our provincial government departments. It is still a foreign language that must be deciphered.

Madam Speaker, why are officials allowed to break the law and get away with it? Is this the norm that has been set by the ruling ANC government? Is the ANC supporting criminal behaviour by not instituting discipline or punitive actions, or hopefully someday, consequence management will be deciphered, understood and implemented.

Madam Speaker, the irregular expenditure within the Provincial Departments accumulates to an overwhelming amount. I am not only referring to the amounts from the 2017/18 financial year, but also from previous years.

The department with the highest recorded irregular expenditure for the previous financial year is the Department of Education with an amount of R2,1 billion, closely followed by the Department of Roads and Public Works at R1,6 billion.

The Department of Education underspent conditional grants by R30,2 million, it has invoices amounting to almost R48 million that was not paid within the 30 day period, and it has an organogram that has not been updated in 12 years.

Madam Speaker, the above mentioned is the realities of a department that is responsible for the future of our country. Education is at the cornerstone of creating a great, successful nation, it is also the foundation for opportunities, and this government is failing our province by allowing education to fail in some of its core functions.

The Department of Health recorded irregular expenditure of R255,6 million, fruitless and wasteful expenditure of R1,3 million, and a staggering R1,6 billion in liability. Let me remind you, that the R1,6 billion in liability has NOT been budgeted for.

This means that this money must be sourced from somewhere which will, most probably, result in the people of the Eastern Cape, again, being the ultimate loser.

Madam Speaker, let me ask the members of this House, and I want them all to think long and hard about this, would you want to be a patient at a state hospital? I don’t think so, if so, kindly destroy your medical aid cards and attend our hospitals that are in atrocious conditions, to say the least.

The Department of Social Development was responsible for R85,75 million in irregular expenditure, while R93,81 million from previous years is still under investigation. The department also recorded R2,19 million as a result of fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

The department of Social Development, who is ultimately responsible for protecting the millions of people in the Eastern Cape who live in poverty, children who have been abandoned by their parents who have become victims of social ills that are riddled within our communities, underspent its allocated budget by a colossal R125,56 million.

Madam Speaker, of this R29,05 million that was allocated to early childhood development, was not used. This means that this government is responsible for millions of children between the ages of 0 and 5 years, not receiving skills that are crucial in developing children. These are signs of an uncaring government that is failing the people and children of our province – more detestable, is the incalculable mistreatment of our young preschool children.

Madam Speaker, the Department of Roads and Public Works was responsible for R1, 6 billion in irregular expenditure. This is an accumulative amount from previous years. Irregular expenditure amounting to R247, 7 million was recorded in the 2017/18 financial year, which gives a new accumulative amount of a momentous R1, 87 billion.

This Department was also responsible for an accumulative amount of R11, 7 million in fruitless and wasteful expenditure. This is while our roads and buildings are crumbling around us and millions of people in the Eastern Cape still do not have access to decent, if any, roads. This is disgraceful and an embarrassment to the ruling party.

The Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform recorded fruitless and wasteful expenditure of R1, 04 million. The department also depleted its budget before all their commitments were met.

Madam Speaker, I am sure that we can all agree that the Eastern Cape is a beautiful province covering a large geographical area and filled with a variety of vegetation, natural beauty, sought after tourist destinations and also possesses so much economic potential. It is sad to see that the potential of the Eastern Cape is not prioritised as a cornerstone for economic development, albeit achieving miniscule milestones, which has no impact on the high unemployment rate.

The Department of Economic development, environmental affairs and tourism revealed an accumulative amount of R214, 3 million in irregular expenditure, with R30, 1 million recorded in the 2017/18 financial year alone.

The department also underspent its budget by R40, 9 million. R40, 9 million went unspent in a province that is yearning for economic growth and a province that possesses a world of untapped potential. It is unacceptable.

Madam Speaker the Department of Transport in the Eastern Cape was responsible for an accumulative amount of R153, 4 million in irregular expenditure, this was never recovered. In the 2017/18 financial year the department recorded irregular expenditure of R24, 5 million.

Madam Speaker, people continue to lose their lives on our roads, children are still forced to walk long distances to schools, Taxi violence is a common occurrence, and traffic law enforcement is almost non-existent. These are signs of a department in distress and this affliction can cause lives to be lost.

Madam Speaker, it is no surprise that the audit outcomes of government departments in the Eastern Cape, for the 2017/18 financial year has regressed compared to 2016/17 financial year because

  1. There were regressions in overall internal controls from 48% in 2016/17 to only 24% in 2017/18
  2. There were basic financial and performance management controls that has regressed from 48% in 2016/17 to only 24% in 2017/18
  3. There were vacancies in CFO positions that have regressed from 5% in 2016/17 to 19% in 2017/18

It is clear from the above that it is no wonder that our financials are not in order.

The DA supports this report.