By Sizwe Mchunu, MPL, DA KZN Spokesperson on Agriculture:
THE DA welcomes a media report confirming that KZN Agriculture department officials, implicated in wide-scale fraud and corruption, are currently being subjected to disciplinary hearings with criminal action and dismissals also in the offing.
The officials who are named in five damning forensic audit reports, completed at a cost of R10 million to date, stand accused of siphoning up to R200million from state coffers amongst other offences.
According to MEC, Cyril Xaba, processes to implement the reports’ recommendations are at an advanced stage with stern disciplinary action, recovery of public funds and filing of criminal charges against those implicated.
The DA welcomes this announcement. We look forward to receiving detailed information from the MEC within the next few days in line with our oversight role as KZN’s official opposition.
Our primary goal at this stage though, is getting hold of the forensic reports themselves.
The DA was originally denied access to the documents but was then allowed to view them under strict supervision and only after signing a confidentiality agreement.
It was found that the contents were explosive and we therefore undertook to submit a Public Access to Information Application (PAIA).
Last week Friday marked the deadline for MEC Xaba and his department to respond to our application – this in spite of a two week extension to the original deadline.
In his budget speech, also on Friday, the MEC questioned the DA’s motives for the application.
The answer is very simple – this is public money and the citizens of this province have a right to know if it is being squandered by corrupt officials.
In failing to respond to the DA’s PAIA, the MEC and his department are in contravention of Section 26 of the Constitution.
Furthermore, in failing to respond, the MEC and his department are in effect refusing to divulge the findings of the forensic audits to both the DA and the public.
The DA expects MEC Xaba and his department to provide a response – one way or the other – without any further delay.