KZN RTI Commission costs soar

Radley Keys, MPP

DA KZN Spokesperson on Transport

A PARLIAMENTARY question by the DA in KwaZulu-Natal to Premier Senzo Mchunu, has revealed that costs relating to the province’s RTI Commission of Inquiry are expected to cost taxpayers R4 million more than initially budgeted.

According to the response, initial funding provided by Treasury was R5 510 million.  This was increased to R7 603 million in June.  By September, costs had amounted to R8 522 million.

The final cost of the Commission is now expected to be R14 234 million.

While the Inquiry as absolutely necessary, the DA regards some of the costs as exorbitant.  We question the rationale presented by the Premier in justifying these costs.

According to the response, by the end of September the following costs had been accumulated;

–        Venue Hire                                                                  R78 808.20

–        Transcription services                                                 R324 382.90

–        Audio visual services                                                   R424 164.12

–        Catering                                                                      R494 962.00

–        Communication/Media plan                                      R492 000.00

–        Support staff salaries                                                  R570 570.00

–        Commissioners’ Costs                                                 R5 550.127.00

Some of the anticipated costs of the Commission for the extended period are as follows;

–        Audio visual services                                                   R186 626.00

–        Catering                                                                      R217 778.00

–        Support staff salaries                                                  R674 684.00

The cost to the taxpayer does not stop here – the departments of Health and Transport have both spent large sums of money bolstering their respective positions in terms of the Inquiry which, to date have not been accounted for to their respective portfolio committees or the provincial parliament.

In a bid to force accountability I have submitted questions to both these departments requesting a full breakdown of costs incurred in their participation in the Commission.

Another aspect that has not seen the light of day is the support given to families who lost loved ones or to individuals who suffered injury at the fiasco of the fitness tests.  To this end I will submit further questions to the Premier and Transport MEC to identify if they indeed have provided any assistance to the families.

The final report is due on 31 March 2014 when it is expected to be presented to the Premier.   He will then, in terms of the KZN Commissions Act, forward the report to the Provincial Legislature through the Office of the Speaker.

The Department of Transport must ultimately take full responsibility for these deaths.

Action must also be taken against those officials who organized the event in such a disastrous manner.  It is clearly a case of negligence and/or incompetence in organizing this event that caused such loss of life when it was altogether avoidable.