Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency is leaderless and failing

By Bosman Grobler MPL, Spokesperson on Finance, Economic Development & Tourism:

Political meddling at the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency has compromised its leadership and financial viability, rendering it unable to deliver on its mandate.

MEC for Economic Development and Tourism, Eric Kholwane’s misjudgement in suspending and eventually forcing former CEO of Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency, Jacques Modipane to quit is costing the agency dearly.

For the 2014/15 financial year the MTPA managed to incur irregular expenditure amounting to R10.9 million and the amount of litigation settlements has increased from R2.5 million to R6.5 million. The entity also has a civil suit against it of 1.1 billion rand for alleged corruption.

This is as a result of political meddling, with cadres of unquestionable loyalty being placed in strategic positions. This leadership has no focus on fulfilling its mandate, but is more concerned about lining the pockets of those loyal to the ANC.

In 2014, the DA warned, that for Modipane to leave the entity was a huge mistake, and that MEC Kholwane’s interference will slow down the improvements of the MTPA as shown under the leadership of Modipane.

The Auditor General’s 2014/2015 report, indicates that the MTPA has regressed from an Unqualified Audit opinion with findings to a Qualified Audit opinion with findings.

The AG lists the following as primary reasons for the regression:

  • Accruals: The entity did not accrue for vehicle reimbursements in arrears, as required by Generally Recognised Accounting Principles. As such accruals were understated by R 4.4 million in the financials.
  • Procurement and contract management: Goods and services with transaction value above R500 000 were procured without obtaining the required price quotations, as required by treasury regulation 16A6.1.
  • Contracts were awarded to bidders based on preference points that had not been calculated in accordance with the requirements of the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework (PPPF).
  • Expenditure Management: The Accounting Authority did not take effective steps to prevent irregular as well as fruitless and wasteful expenditure as required by section 51 (1)(b)(ii) of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).

How will this entity provide an integrated tourism and biodiversity conservation management system in order to stimulate and maintain economic growth for the Province, if it has all of the above mentioned challenges.

The MTPA is failing to contribute significantly to the economic potential of especially rural areas in Mpumalanga. As such the DA maintain its stance on the commercialisation of MTPA owned parks.

The DA believes that the commercialisation of these parks will free up MTPA from the burden of running these parks, and allow it to focus on its core mandate of biodiversity conservation and tourism marketing. This could stimulate the economy and create more jobs.

The annual report shows that the MTPA is incapable of running these vital tourism destinations effectively.