Four state departments dismissed by SCOPA: accountability is teetering on the brink of collapse in Limpopo

Statement released by me Desiree van der Walt, MPL, Leader of the DA, Limpopo Province

Four state departments were dismissed last week from the meetings of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) for their failure to implement its resolutions ordering them to, among other things, blacklist companies belonging to state employees and doing business with state departments without requisite approval. These departments are Treasury, the Legislature, department of Health and the department of local government and housing. This is the second time that these departments appeared before SCOPA and failed to account for the measures they took to implement SCOPA resolutions.

Failure by these state departments to implement SCOPA resolutions should not be a surprise. It means that accountability is teetering on the brink of collapse in Limpopo. These state employees have vested financial interests in state business contracts. Because these resolutions have already been adopted by the provincial parliament, failure to implement them is in fact contempt of parliament. Consequently, the Democratic Alliance will be writing to the Speaker to seek his intervention in this debacle. There must be punitive measures taken against state departments who fail to implement parliaments directives. It is simply not enough as SCOPA Chairperson, mr Ngobeni has done, to dismiss the defaulting departments, call them for a later meeting and order them to incur the costs of such meetings. It is taxpayers’ money that they will be wasting, a more stringent measure is appropriate. In 2009 the Auditor-General issued a performance audit of entities that are connected with government employees and do business with the state. It found our Province to be the worst offender with 929 employees associated with 1240 companies which did business with state departments to the value of over R269 million. Of these employees only eight had a verifiable approval by the department concerned. The Democratic Alliance had a solution to this. They have submitted a private members bill (a manner in which a member of the legislature may introduce a bill for discussion), a piece of legislation if adopted would regulate the way in which state employees do business with government departments. This law would curb the scope of corruption in Limpopo Provincial administration. To recap, this bill would introduce the following measures: Provincial government employees and their families will be prohibited from directly or indirectly holding more than 5% of shares, stock, membership or other interests in an entity that does business with the provincial government, unless in certain circumstances.

Secondly, before the provincial government enters into any contract with an entity for the sale, lease or supply of goods and services, the entity must provide an affidavit disclosing whether or not it is owned or part-owned by employees of the Limpopo government and lastly, all provincial government employees will be required to disclose their business interests at prescribed intervals, in the same way that members of the Executive Council already do so.

However, as expected, the ruling party simply shelved this Bill until the DA was informed that upon the recent departure of the introducing member, mr J Smalle, who is now in the national parliament, this bill has been expunged. These are the time delaying tactics the DA has warned about when they introduced the Bill. The ruling party is not serious about service delivery, all they care about is enriching themselves, their families and cronies through lucrative state contracts.