Mark Steele, MPP
DA KZN Spokesperson on Scopa
The audit outcomes for Departments and Public Entities in KZN represent a mixed bag of results.
Yes, there has been an improvement. Auditees which are unqualified with no findings (the so-called clean audits) are up from 7 to 15 and include this Legislature. There are, however, also problems. Auditees which are qualified with findings also show an increase from 4 to 6, while those that are unqualified with findings are still 16 in number even though this is a figure much reduced from 26 in the previous year.
Of major concern to Scopa and this House should be the fact that the biggest Departments, Education and Health, which together spend nearly R60 billion, were both qualified with findings.
Joining them in the audit walk of shame were Arts and Culture and Social Development.
In his report the AG states clearly what he wants Scopa and this Legislature to pay attention to.
– Material mis-statements in financial records
– The usual suspects – irregular, unauthorised, fruitless and wasteful expenditure
– Procurement management.
The resolutions tabled before you today address all of these issues.
Two matters deserve to be highlighted from the Committee Report. At the APAC conference held earlier this year in Port Elizabeth we called for negative audit findings to have consequences, and this message is reinforced here.
‘Committee is of the opinion that stronger disciplinary actions need to be taken by the Accounting Officer against staff responsible for incurring Irregular/Unauthorised/Fruitless/ Wasteful expenditure. In most cases the expenditure is incurred due to flagrant disregard for supply chain management regulations, lack of proper planning and the lack of capacity of staff in financial positions’.
We as a Legislature need to demand consequences. Let us remember the PFMA division of responsibilities – the AO or HOD is responsible for the management of the Department, while the Executive Authority or MEC is responsible for the performance of the HOD.
Where a Dept has a single year negative audit finding we need to hold the AO responsible for investigating and correcting what has happened. Where a Department has a recurring negative audit finding we need to hold the EA responsible.
We should be asking what the MEC is doing monitor the performance of the HOD and to ensure that proper action is taken, for example, to prevent non-compliance. Cosy relationships between HODs and MECs are fine when audits are clean, but not when audits findings of non-compliance recur year after year.
Secondly we note that the hearing for the Dept of Health had to be abandoned. The Committee report summarises the position accurately and confirms that Scopa is still determined to have this hearing. However there are unanswered questions.
Did the MEC know in advance that the HOD was going to be missing from Scopa? Did he authorise this absence? Does the MEC in fact have full control over the actions of his HOD?
Finally Madam Speaker we must mention the strange events around KZN Ezemvelo. Scopa had a hearing and we table resolutions – Pg 8, Resolution 16. This calls on Provincial Treasury to investigate and report back by 28 February 2014 on the management of the Department and corrective actions taken.
So why then was Scopa called to a Joint Meeting with the Conservation portfolio committee and the Ezemvelo Board to discuss these draft resolutions before they were even tabled or adopted by this House? This meeting was totally irregular and should never be seen to be setting a precedent for the future conduct of other PCs.
I would like to conclude by thanking the members and Chairperson of Scopa for their commitment to oversight and to the vital work of holding the Executive to account.