Ismail Obaray, MPL
DA Northern Cape: Spokesperson of the NCPL
082 380 2128
Independent Democrats MPL and Deputy Chairperson of the Democratic Alliance (DA), Ismail Obaray, is of the view that it is purely unacceptable for the very institution meant to be the champion of oversight and holding government departments to account, to be in a situation where it has performed so badly.
This comes in the wake of a presentation by the Auditor-General (A-G) and Northern Cape Provincial Legislature to the joint SCOPA and Portfolio Committee on Finance, Economic Development & Tourism on Wednesday.
The A-G gave the Provincial Legislature a qualified audit outcome for the 2011/12 financial year, and it is our express view that this is just not good enough by the Legislature.
The reasons for the qualified audit opinion stem from a seemingly complete mess of the Legislature’s financial and accounting practices, with the A-G citing there being, “some goods and services and subsistence and travel transactions that were not supported by sufficient appropriate audit evidence”. This has seen allegations of fraud being raised in the Provincial Legislature, and have already seen some senior officials being suspended and subject to investigation by the South African Police Services.
The accounting systems used at the Legislature have been called into doubt by the A-G, and could not verify the, “occurrence and accuracy of the amount making up the transactions that could not be physically supported by the documentation”. These are elementary errors which call into question the competency of senior management to ensure adequate systems and controls are in place.
We welcome the A-G not mincing his words, seeing that the Provincial Legislature is failing to keep a paper record to substantiate it transactions. The question thus must be asked, where were the Legislature’s Presiding Officers to provide leadership and oversight?
It is concerning that there is a culture of unaccountability by officials, who seemingly did their own thing. The A-G raises the deviation by officials from targets, objectives and indicators that are “not consistent with the targets as per the approved annual performance plan”. This is the very plan which gets approved by the Executive Authority.
It is no surprise then that the A-G considered the targets pursued by the Provincial Legislature to have been non-compliant. I believe the vague and murky targets officials set themselves stems from a culture of mediocrity. Worse yet, the lack of time-frames placed on achieving targets, means that officials were quite happy with pursuing mediocrity indefinitely. Again it must be asked, where were the Presiding Officers and senior leaders?
The culture of unaccountability has been helped along by management not setting up an internal audit committee, or ensuring the internal audit function was under the control of the audit committee, which is a requirement by law. The bottom line in our view is this is a classic example of poor governance, and stronger action is needed to restore good governance in the Provincial Legislature.