15 May 2017
The Democratic Alliance welcomes the investigation by the Hawks into the suspicious activity at the Northern Cape Department of Economic Development & Tourism, specifically as it relates to the maladministration of the provincial Economic Growth & Development Fund. We have been raising the issue of questionable payments, corruption and cronyism at this fund as early as 2014 and an investigation into the matter is long overdue.
The funneling of funds for cadres and the politically connected elite is not a new phenomenon. In the 2015/16 financial year, one of the companies which benefitted from the fund, Insimbikazi Trading, was registered to the spouse of the then MEC for Finance, John Block. It is a clear conflict of interest that the company would benefit from the fund, yet officials scrambled to provide excuses for this decision. An official even tried to say that the company was registered to a different person, when records from CIPC proved that Insimbikazi Trading was registered in the name of Block’s spouse.
The spouse of the newly appointed MEC for Finance, Economic Development & Tourism, Gail Parker, is also implicated in questionable handling of the fund. At the time that Gail Parker was the chairperson of the Legislature’s Portfolio Committee on Finance, Economic Development & Tourism, a company registered to her spouse was ‘pre-targeted’ for funding from the Economic Growth & Development Fund. Officials could not adequately explain the criteria on which this specific company was ‘pre-targeted’.
It also raises questions about the delays in the approval of the amended transfer policy. While the former MEC for Finance, Economic Development & Tourism spoke about the need to amend the transfer policy which covers the Economic Growth & Development Fund to ensure that there would be geographic representation amongst beneficiaries, officials delayed with drafting and amending the policy. As a result, the Fund underspent significantly during the first three quarters of the 2016/17 year. It seems like an easy calculation to see where the remainder of the money went.
If the premier truly wants to rid the department of cronyism and the corrupt legacy of John Block, she will need to do much more than have one or two meetings to derail her political opponents.
Adv Boitumelo Babuseng, MPL
DA Provincial Spokesperson for Economic Affairs
082 302 2117 / 079 874 6179
071 251 5558