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Sanitation unit’s R6bn overspend

Mokonyane’s shambolic leadership to blame

  • 4 Oct 2018
  • The Star Early Edition
  • MAYIBONGWE MAQHINA

AUDITOR-General Kimi Makwetu has painted a shambolic state of affairs in the Water and Sanitation Department, which logged R6.156 billion in irregular expenditure under former minister Nomvula Mokonyane.

Makwetu found the department to have been without adequate systems of control, including proper project management and costing techniques in line with norms and standards.

This emerged in the damning audit report submitted recently in Parliament as part of the department’s 2017/2018 annual report.

He also found that no disciplinary action was taken against officials responsible for incurring or permitting irregular expenditure in the previous years because not all investigations took place during the year.

“In some instances, disciplinary hearings were not held for confirmed cases of financial misconduct committed by officials,” he said.

The report shows that R1.6bn was incurred in 2017-2018 and R4.5bn in prior years.

“The majority of the disclosed irregular expenditure was caused by implementing agents not following procurement processes amounting to R1.977bn.

“A further amount of R127m was incurred on the bucket eradication programme due to improper deviations,” he said

Makwetu also said the department failed to take effective and appropriate steps to prevent unauthorised expenditure amounting to R933m, mainly on war-on-leaks programme that was implemented without budget allocation.

He blamed the shambles in the finances on the department’s leadership, which was marred by acting director-generals and instability in the chief financial officer’s position.

“Consequence management processes were inadequate as leadership did not take appropriate action for irregular as well as fruitless and wasteful expenditure incurred by the department in some instances,” he said.

The department has in a statement welcomed the audit report. It committed to work with Makwetu’s office and National Treasury to implement all the recommendations.

“To this end, the department is already implementing its turnaround strategy in line with five pillars announced by Water and Sanitation Minister Gugile Nkwinti during his maiden Budget Vote speech in May,” the statement read.

Yesterday, Nkwinti’s spokesperson Mthobeli Mxotwa, said: “We will attend to all the wrong-doings and correct all of them.”

Acting director-general Deborah Mochotlhi blamed the procurement processes to implementing agents that did not comply with tender procedures when implementing projects on the department’s behalf.

Mochotlhi said she had instructed the agents to strengthen their supply chain management processes especially procurement and contract management.

Makwetu also said goods and services above R500 000 were procured without inviting competitive bids or deviations were approved though it was practical to invite competitive bids.

The financial statements were not submitted for audit within two months after the end of the financial year were not prepared according to the Public Finance Management Act.

“Material misstatements identified by auditors and the submitted financial statements were not corrected, supporting records could not be provided which resulted in the financial statements receiving a qualified opinion,” Makwetu said.

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