Public works MEC must explain department’s financial mismanagement

Anthony Benadie MPL

Provincial Leader – Mpumalanga

Mpumalanga public works, roads and transport MEC Dikeledi Mahlangu must explain why the department overspent its budget at least three months before the end of the financial year – potentially putting crucial roads maintenance throughout the province under threat.

An internal departmental memo in the DA’s possession instructs all staff to abide by cost curtailment measures until the end of the financial year, and enforces travel, cell phone and catering caps, as well as requiring travel itineraries to be submitted to the Deputy Director General for approval.

These temporary and highly unnecessary measures could have been avoided had the department executed sound financial management and planning, and operated within the R3,5 billion allocated it for the full 12 months financial year. Furthermore, the belated directive to implement telephone and travel restrictions speaks of poor internal control, as it appears that these are not strictly enforced throughout the financial year.

It may very well be possible that the department overspent most of its budget in the hope that it would be topped up in the mid-term. Unfortunately this was not the case, and now officials are ordered to implement telephone limits as per policy and are limited on the distances they may travel per month.

While service delivery and crucial roads maintenance may potentially suffer a devastating blow, the DA remains highly concerned that neither the MEC, nor the HOD nor the provincial treasury detected timeously that the department was fast running out of funds, and MEC Mahlangu must explain.

To this end, the DA will submit formal parliamentary questions asking the MEC why the department ran out of funds and why it did not operate within the means at its disposal. We will also ask the MEC to explain why telephone and travel limits were not enforced throughout the year, and what steps will be taken to recoup those costs from errant officials. Finally, we will call on the MEC to ensure that all essential travel itineraries are timeously approved, as crucial service delivery cannot be hampered by a cumbersome bureaucratic process.

Given the above, the DA believes that the department’s financial management practises are not up to the standards as prescribed by the Public Finance Management Act, and requires closer scrutiny.

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