By Dr Tutu Faleni (MPL), Democratic Alliance Spokesperson on Social Development in the North West Legislature:
The DA in the North West condemns the flagrant mismanagement and careless maladministration of the R2,3 million Readira Community goat farming Project, at the hands of the North West Department of Social Development.
The project has been so poorly managed that R137,000.00 was allegedly stolen from the project account, there was irregular expenditure in the amount of R625,704.72, and a R200,000.00 vehicle of the project was written off after an unlicensed driver crashed it.
Some project members submitted fraudulent claims against the project, and claimed money meant to be paid to service providers. Some of these members allegedly paid themselves bonuses as well out of the project funds.
Eight members of the project appeared in the Bloemhof Magistrate Court today to answer for the criminal aspects of the project’s maladministration, and the DA will be in attendance at Court.
The DA is disturbed by the admission made by the MEC for Social Development that project funds were withdrawn from the project bank account without following correct financial procedures. The department did not act in time to protect state funds against the looting that took place under the noses of departmental officials.
The Readira Project, which has since collapsed, clearly shows what happens when government ‘dumps’ money on community projects without putting mechanisms in place to regulate how to utilise funds allocated to them. Clearly no proper financial training, and financial controls were in place and the Department must take responsibility for this.
It is unfortunate that due to the Department of Social Development abdicating its responsibility of monitoring state funds, a project which held so much promise especially for the unemployed youths has completely collapsed.
Projects for the upliftment of communities, funded by Department budgets, are welcomed and encouraged – but when the Department does nothing to make sure that the people on the ground are upskilled to correctly handle the project finances, then it fails in its duty to bring about real, lasting change.
On the basis of the responses from the MEC for Social Development and after consulting with legal advisers, the DA intends to lay further charges against project members who stole public funds. The DA will also see to it that if these people are found guilty that they face the full might of the law.