Slap on the wrist for blatant abuse of public funds

Issued by Nqaba Bhanga, MPL
DA EC Provincial Leader

Eastern Cape government employees who have squandered over a billion rand of public funds have barely been held accountable.

More money has been spent irregularly in the Eastern Cape over the past three financial years than what was planned for the controversial Tottenham Hotspurs deal.

What makes matters worse is that those responsible are more often than not let off with a warning, or resign before any disciplinary action is finalised, with no follow-up action taking place to hold them accountable.

In response to a parliamentary question from the DA, Premier Oscar Mabuyane revealed that between 2019 and 2022, the various provincial departments dealt with cases amounting to over R1,3 billion in irregular expenditure. These are funds that have been spent without following correct procedures, which opens the door for corrupt activities.

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Cases relating to fruitless and wasteful expenditure amounted to a further R13,7 million, damage to government property of R885 thousand, loss of assets totalling R1,9 million, fraud, insubordination and dishonesty cases totalling R42,3 million and financial non-disclosures of just over R1 million.

Of these cases, a staggering 162 cases for amounts totalling R876.1 million only resulted in warning letters. A further 66 cases totalling R9,3 million were written off.

There were just 32 dismissals in cases totalling R38 million.

In sharp contrast, of the 598 finalised cases, 37 employees implicated in cases totalling over R170,2 million resigned and faced zero consequences for their actions.

Departments contributing to the highest number of resignations are

  • Department of Transport – 17 resignations (R150 million)
  • Department of Public Works – 3 resignations (R12.3million)
  • Department of Education – 6 resignations (R1.5 million)
  • Department of Rural Development – 5 resignations (R1.2 million)

It is unacceptable that these employees can just walk away, often taking up a position within a different department, with no consequences.

Worse, it appears that departments are deliberately waiting for employees to resign, rather than finalise their cases.

The DA is urging the Premier to ensure that disciplinary proceedings proceed, regardless of whether the individual has resigned. Where the individual has moved to another department, the Public Service Commissioner (PSC) must be engaged to ensure that the case continues.

The Premier is quick to talk about consequence management, but the figures above speak for themselves. As long as there is no effective consequence management in place for financial misconduct, departments will continue to bleed funds, and ultimately deprive communities of valuable public services.

The DA will continue the fight to ensure these officials are held accountable and public funds are spent correctly.