North West Legislature on investigating irregular expenditure in Department of Education

North West SCOPA instructs Education Department to engage Section 100’s AntiCorruption Task Team to address irregular expenditure of over R1 Billion

The North West Provincial Legislature’s Standing Committee on Provincial Public Accounts (SCOPA) chaired by Hon. Job Dliso has instructed the Department of Education to involve the InterMinisterial Task Team on Section 100 Intervention’s AntiCorruption Task Team to assist on investigating irregular expenditure of over R383 million in the 2018/19 financial year and R1, 1 billion in the previous financial years.

This follows the Public Finance Management Act public hearing with the department for the 2018/19 audit outcomes. According to the audit report on the current financial year, the irregular expenditure investigations are hampered due to a lack of capacity and skills to perform investigations and follow due processes.

Hon. Dliso said according the audit report, some of the irregular expenditure emanates to the R254, 1 million stationery contract that was issued in 2016/17 financial year for 3 years. The department seems to be stagnant and dragging its feet on investigating cases worth millions of Rands hence we recommend the usage of this important unit of state that was established by the National Treasury.

Instead of investigating these cases such as over R10 million that stems from order generated after delivery of services or the R42,2 million due to noncompliance of supply chain processes, the department is not applying consequence management to recover the monies lost to state, said Hon. Dliso.

He said the department’s underspending of over R192 million on infrastructure grant that includes building and maintenance of schools due to lack of capacity is also a serious concern.

The Standing Committee is also worried about unspent grants on schools as service delivery is affected and instead of implementing the projects, the department is rather shifting its responsibilities to other organs of state such as Developmental Bank of South Africa and Industrial Development Trust but without proper schools infrastructure rollout plan.

We are almost five months towards end of the financial year, yet the department claims that it does not have such a plan due to capacity challenges. The Standing Committee is also worried that the same mistake that happened in the previous financial year will recur, where infrastructure grant was moved from the province to Eastern Cape due to lack of planning and underspending , said Hon. Dliso.

The Administrator at the department, Mr. Johannes Mohlala said investigations and disciplinary action has been issued to supply chain management processes’ transgressors. Six (6) officials were served with notices to provide justifiable reasons for irregular expenditure incurred and subsequent to their submissions, R4.1 million was cleared after consultation with Auditor General.

Whilst certain officials resigned or dismissed, the department is in the process of appointing an independent audit/accounting firms to investigate irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure and guide on consequence management, said Mr. Mohlala.

He also said the department is currently engaged in the finalisation of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Development Bank of South Africa towards the public entity serving as an implementing agent. Upon our engagement with the Department of Public Works and Roads, we discovered that it does not have enough technical and professional support on the building environment hence we employed 16 professionals within the infrastructure Chief Directorate, said Mr. Mohlala.

Mr. Mohlala said the professionals where appointed within the districts to monitor various projects and ensure that they are implementing accordingly.

Hon. Dliso said the department should submit a detailed post audit action plan categorised quarterly with proper timelines and a comprehensive report on consequence management with details on all cases and action taken. The department must involve all law enforcement agencies to ensure that supply chain transgressors are apprehended, said Hon. Dliso.

He said the department should sign a Memorandum of Understanding with infrastructure rollout plan should be signed with the Department of Public Works and Roads. We need effective intergovernmental relations between departments to ensure that our people are provided with good schools. We also need a comprehensive report on schools infrastructure rollout plans and projects list and their status quo, said Hon. Dliso.

Source: Government of South Africa