Dr. Allan Grootboom, MPL
DA Northern Cape: Spokesperson on Education
071 682 6806
The Democratic Alliance (DA) will resubmit a Private Members Bill to the Northern Cape Legislature, which called for the banning of Government Department officials and their family members, including officials in the Department of Roads and Public Works, from doing business with the Departments they work for.
This comes in the wake of the Auditor-General (A-G) and the Department of Roads and Public Works appearing before a joint SCOPA and Portfolio Committee on Safety, Liaison, Transport, Roads and Public Works, on Thursday.
During the meeting, the MEC, Dawid Rooi, and his Department failed to answer questions as to whether any Department officials, or even their family members, were conducting business with the Department, and whether any action was being taken to correct this. The silence on this question is ominous.
It is a matter of great concern that the Roads & Public Works Department has received a qualified audit opinion from the A-G, and that this is a regression from the previous financial year when it had managed to obtain an unqualified audit outcome. The A-G pointed to immovable assets disclosed as R1 066 289 000, which are registered in the name of the province, having not been disclosed, and further wrote, “properties were also incorrectly valued, which resulted in immoveable assets being understated by R71 472 249”.
The DA finds it unacceptable that a Department with the core function of managing the property portfolio of the province worth billions would make such an oversight.
Of greatest concern in this regard is that the Head of Department, Mr Nogwili, in his response, chose to fudge the issue. Rather he disputed the way the A-G reported the assets, including who owns them. Nogwili oddly argued that if the classification of the immoveable assets by the A-G, had been based on their interpretation as a Department, they would have got an unqualified audit. Such a view smacks of arrogance, and attempts to divert away from the fact that the understating of these assets remains a problem his Department needs to deal with.
On issues related to the procurement of goods and services, the DA is of the view that the non-adherence to regulations opens the door to possibly fraudulent and corrupt activities in this Department. The MEC should be particularly concerned in this respect, as his Department already has a case before the court of officials involved in the alleged improper award of a security contract to the company, Victory Ticket. However the question must be asked, has this Department learnt from this lesson?
The A-G again cites examples in which transaction for goods and services with a “value below R500 000 were procured without obtaining price quotations”. However it does not end there, the A-G further notes that, “sufficient appropriate audit evidence could not be obtained that goods and services of a transaction value above R500 000 were procured by means of inviting competitive bids”, both instances a clear violation of the law. Is the Department once again inviting possible fraudulent activity through its non-compliance?
At the end of the day, the buck stops with the MEC and his HOD, and the onus is on them to provide greater clarity and accountability.