NW DA calls for National intervention in the North West Department of Public Works Roads and Transport

Chris Hattingh MPL

Provincial Leader Democratic Alliance North-West

An analysis of the North West Department of Public Works, Roads and Transport can give no other result other than the Department has sunk into a state of dysfunctionality, slowly and increasingly devouring itself at the expense of the taxpayer.

A significant number of contracts, products of questionable tender allocations, end up in legal disputes, with the NW Provincial Government building up a record as perpetual losers. The recent settlement reached with a contractor where R26million was paid, R11 million for work done and R15million as a settlement is an example of a practice of never-ending conflicts involving tenders and contracts.

Other indicators of the extended dysfunctionality in the Department are:

* The highest number of suspended officials in any NW Department

* Questionable procurement processes – the rental of the building that should by now have accommodated the Department of Health and Social Development was procured at rates that even exceeded rentals in prime spots in major South African cities. After intervention of the North West Treasury negotiations to purchase the building at an exorbitant fee started.

The Department has become synonymous with non-delivery and poor quality of delivered products – The Departments of Health and Education as well as the Legislature are in continuous disputes with the Department about maintenance issues.

The formal abdication of road maintenance in the NW Province to the National Department, as announced by the President in the State of the Nation address, came after years of neglect and non-delivery – the provincial “yellow fleet” charged with road maintenance was left without fuel from September last year until the end of March leaving personnel hanging around offices for half of the year doing nothing.

The selling of discounted state assets, in conflict with Legislation and the Department’s own regulations: – i.e. the selling of a house valued between R2m and R3m for R405 000 to the former Speaker (now Premier) is an example of this practice.

Another example was the selling of the Shell Garage for R100 000 before it was immediately resold for R2million – a transaction that the Premier undertook to investigate some time ago.

The MEC for Public works this morning also confirmed that the Department went into a rental agreement with a family member of a relative of the Premier at an amount of R200 per month for a R600 000 houses. This happened in a province where there are long waiting lists for accommodation for government officials.

The Auditor General pronounced on the Department in its latest audit report expressing a “Disclaimer Opinion” on the finances of the Department highlighting:

* The unavailability of appropriate audit evidence to confirm if payments of R789 476 591 were made in terms of required regulations;

* Irregular Expenditure of R1 781 042 000;

* Inability to obtain audit evidence of immovable assets valued at R20 239 907 000;

* Inability to substantiate moveable tangible assets valued at R305 818 257;

* Inability to confirm the completeness of moveable capital assets of R810 553 000;

* Fruitless and Wasteful expenditure amounting to R25 587 220 including R11 222 220 due to staff being suspended.

There are no reasons left why the Department should continue to function in its current state – there is no reason why the National Department should not take over the functioning of the Dept. in the way Limpopo Departments were taken over. Perhaps the only reason why it did not happen until now is the because of the influence exercised by the Premier in her primary position as the Deputy Secretary of the ANC.

The North West Democratic Alliance supports the opinion of the NW Public Works, Roads and Transport Portfolio Committee calling for a national intervention.

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