By Francois Rodgers, MPL, DA KZN Spokesperson on Agriculture:
KZN’s Department of Agriculture has until midnight tonight to respond to the DA’s Public Access to Information Application (PAIA) for documents relating to 10 forensic audits into allegations of fraud, corruption and maladministration within the department amounting to a possible R200 million.
The cut off comes after the department was granted an extension to the earlier deadline.
The alleged transgressions took place under the watch of then MEC Meshack Radebe who has since been promoted to the position of Deputy Speaker in the KZN Legislature.
The DA has scrutinized these documents already. Of the 10 forensic investigations, 5 have been completed at a cost of R10 million to KZN taxpayers. Indications are that up to R20 million will have been squandered on this process once all ten audits have been completed.
In every report, the same names of department officials popped up time and again. When pressed for answers on this, an official confirmed that no one has been suspended or moved out of SCM. It was even alleged that some may have received promotion within the department.
A further twist in the tail is the subsequent investigation by the SIU and the Hawks when most of the ground work has been covered by the current investigations.
It is a miserable day for agriculture when, through inferior control and management, agricultural aid to the poorest of the poor is denied.
Whatever “spin” the department may put on this, it is an embarrassment to the ANC.
The information contained within these audits is of public interest, hence the DA’s application.
Since taking over the reins at Agriculture, MEC Cyril Xaba has taken the “bull by the horns, leading from the front and exposing his predecessors for their poor, non-existent leadership and absolute incompetence in running this vital department.
Ironically this will prove to be his biggest challenge.
The DA implore MEC Xaba to speedily and decisively deal make a decision regarding the PAIA application in order to ensure that justice prevails to protect the lives of the vulnerable.
Until the issues contained therein are addressed, the MEC will continue to be yoked and incapable of turning his department into a flagship for the province and South Africa.