9 September 2016
Not one board member of the Northern Cape Economic Development, Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (NCEDA) bothered to show up for the recent tabling of its annual performance plan. This level of disinterest in its own affairs is certainly nothing new, as board members are yet to attend a single meeting with the Portfolio Committee on Finance, Economic Development & Tourism.
The acting CEO says that the Member of the Executive Council for Finance, Economic Development & Tourism has made him the accounting authority in terms of section 49(2)(b) of the Public Finance Management Act. In so doing, the MEC acted outside the scope of his legal powers. The relevant section of the PFMA only applies in the absence of legislation which designates another person or persons to perform the duties of accounting authority. And section 5 of the Northern Cape Economic Development, Trade and Investment Promotion Agency Act clearly stipulates that it is the Board which must be the accounting authority.
What makes the MEC’s designation of the acting CEO as accounting authority even more egregious is the fact that the CEO himself must be accountable to the Board. While he is allowed to attend Board meetings, section 6 of the Northern Cape Economic Development, Trade and Investment Promotion Agency Act prohibits him from being a member of the Board and from voting at Board meetings.
What the MEC has done, in effect, was to send a mouse to guard a cat.
NCEDA was therefore sent back with its tail between its legs to find a Board member who is willing to perform his or her legal duties and to come and account for the public money which is allocated to the entity. Once this has been done, NCEDA needs to be engaged on the many challenges that it faces. These include the fact that it has had an acting CEO since its establishment, it cannot afford the sitting fees to hold Board meetings, it struggles to pay creditors within the stipulated 30 days and it cannot manage the entity as a going concern. Furthermore, the economic development unit now resides under the Northern Cape Department of Economic Development & Tourism.
We have proposed that NCEDA be dissolved because of its unwillingness to meet its legislative obligations. If the MEC cannot step up and if his department cannot assist the entity to resolve its challenges, NCEDA must be dissolved sooner rather than later.
Adv Boitumelo Babuseng, MPL
DA Provincial Spokesperson for Economic Affairs
082 302 2117 / 079 874 6179
076 551 0312