HOW much did former KZN Social Development MEC, Meshack Radebe, know about departmental officials who were apparently fraudulently disbursing public funds in terms of the Sustainable Livelihood programme from 1996 to 2008? What did the accounting officer in the department report to him about irregular expenditure? These are the kinds of questions that need answers and which the province’s parliamentary watchdog body – Scopa – should be asking the former MEC.

For 12 years, officials in the KZN Social Development department colluded in the theft of some R 5.8 million from the Sustainable Livelihood programme. The Department, assisted by the SIU and the SAPS, has been engaged in investigating, prosecuting and where possible recovering more than R2 million in stolen funds. While the focus has been on the illegal actions of officials, the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) makes it clear that the Executive Authority, in this case the MEC, also has a responsibility for ensuring compliance with the Act. The PFMA came into effect in April 2000, but the offences reported before the province’s Scopa department earlier this month continued long after that date.

At the very least, the MEC should be assisting in establishing exactly what happened within his own department during the many years that embezzling the poor and defrauding the tax payer was so rife.

Mark Steele, MPP

DA KZN Spokesperson for Scopa

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