DA: Either dissolve NCEDA or appoint board

Boitumelo Babuseng, MPL

DA Provincial Spokesperson on Economic Affairs:

The Democratic Alliance calls for the MEC of Economic Development and Tourism to either dissolve the dysfunctional Northern Cape Economic Development, Trade and Investment Promotion Agency or to appoint additional board members immediately. If he fails to act, we will subpoena him before the Portfolio Committee.

 

As we speak, NCEDA has only one board member in the form of a chairperson. The last invitation to nominate persons to serve on the board was gazetted in 2010. Since then, a number of board members have resigned and have not yet been replaced. This violates section 6 of the Northern Cape Economic Development, Trade and Investment Promotion Agency Act 4 of 2008, which stipulates that the NCEDA board consists of five members.

 

In terms of the Northern Cape Economic Development, Trade and Investment Promotion Agency Act, the board must act as accounting authority for the entity. In the absence of a full board, all the decisions are now being taken by one person, which is the chairperson.

 

The lack of a full board hampers the Legislature’s ability to conduct proper oversight and to hold NCEDA accountable. To date, the board has been unable to present their annual reports for the past two years.

Since October 2014, the committee meetings at the Legislature had to be postponed twice because the chairperson was unavailable. The meeting scheduled this week had to be stopped midway through the proceedings, as the chairperson was unable to present the annual reports for the 2012/13 and 2013/14 financial years. He reasoned that he thought that the department of Economic Development and Tourism had presented the annual reports already to the Legislature. This is a contradiction, because he had repeatedly boasted that he had previously presented annual reports to the Legislature. In fact, he pointed out that he did not recognise the new members in the Legislature. From his previous experience, he should know that the department does not present any reports from entities.

 

The presentation that the chairperson did make, indicates that there are very serious problems with the management of the Mittah Seperepere Convention Centre. At the moment, R260 000 is paid per month to the service provider who manages the centre. The chairperson indicated that steps were taken to collect revenue due to the province from the centre, but the service provider was not cooperative. The agency has taken over the centre in October 2014, but it clearly does not have the capacity to run the centre properly.

 

The board is also operating without a supply chain management unit. In the absence of this crucial unit, the chairperson has assumed responsibility for bid adjudication and tenders. All contracts with a worth of R500 000 or less are being adjudicated by the chairperson and, in one instance, a contract worth R600 000 was adjudicated and awarded by him. Earlier this week, another tender was advertised and will likely only be adjudicated by the chairperson.

 

Treasury Regulations are very clear that contracts must be awarded either through inviting competitive quotations or by a bid committee.

We cannot allow a situation where the Public Finance Management Act and Treasury Regulations are being flouted on this scale.

 

The position of Chief Executive Officer is also left vacant. No acting CEO has been appointed.

 

The DA demands that the MEC must either dissolve NCEDA or appoint additional board members. We has today submitted written questions to the MEC of Finance to determine when the new boards for NCEDA, the Northern Cape Tourism Authority and the Northern Cape Gambling Board will be appointed.