Connect with us


Free State audits dogged by lack of accountability



Staff Reporter

Free State Treasury is the only provincial department that achieved a clean audit in the 2019-20 financial year with only two others slightly improving their results, Auditor General of South Africa Tsakani Maluleke has revealed.

This is the first time since 2016-17 that the province has produced a clean audit.

But Maluleke was quick to point out that lack of accountability remains a problem in most departments in the Free State.

“This is the second consecutive year of improvement, but a lack of accountability continued to result in pervasive non-compliance and deteriorating financial health,” Maluleke said, with a particular emphasis on procurement-related issues.

“A culture of no consequences has been created through the political and administrative leadership’s inability to implement consequence management for the pervasive non-compliance with legislation,” she added in the report released on Wednesday.

The auditor general said this left state resources vulnerable to misappropriation, wastage and the abuse.

The Fleet Management Trading Entity usually referred to as the government garage and the Office of the Premier were the only other auditees that improved their audit outcomes.

The Free State Development Corporation regressed to a disclaimed audit outcome with findings.

A disclaimed outcome is issued when an auditor cannot obtain sufficient and appropriate financial statements to draw a conclusion or support their opinion.

Other departments, namely Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs; Education; Police, Roads and Transport; Provincial Legislature; as well as Public Works and Infrastructure were unchanged and received unqualified audit opinions with findings.

The departments of Agriculture and Rural Development; Central Medical Trading Account; Economic, Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs; Health; Social Development; and Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation got unqualified audit outcomes with findings like in the previous year.

Maluleke said the continued transgression of supply chain management prescripts was reflected in the significant amount of irregular expenditure incurred annually.

She said leadership has been unable to curb this behaviour and was slow to respond by investigating the irregularities.

“The Free State Department of Police, Roads and Transport serves as an example of the continued disregard for procurement prescripts, and was the highest contributor of irregular expenditure,” said the auditor general.

The department racked up a bill of over R1 billion in irregular expenditure for the period 2019-20.

“The department irregularly appointed a panel of suppliers for the repair and maintenance of roads,” she said.

“It was concerning that, in the previous year, the department had cancelled contracts relating to the irregular appointment of a panel.

“Yet, in the current year, the department appointed another panel irregularly, for similar services as the previously cancelled contracts.”

The provincial education department also incurred material irregularities due to non-compliance with supply chain management prescripts, resulting in likely financial losses.

Maluleke said some provincial departments had shown an improvement in the level of assurance provided by the political leadership.

She was however worried that in some cases, the administrative leadership and senior management did not create a culture that promoted accountable, effective and efficient provincial government.

The auditor general cited the Free State Department of Health as an example of where preventative controls were not in place.

She said as a result of failure to ensure that adequate supporting documentation was available before making packing payments, the department actually paid for infrastructure assets already received.

Investigations into the overpay are still going on.

“This compromised effective monitoring and oversight by all assurance providers. We applaud the provincial treasury for the support they provided to auditees throughout the year and their assistance with coordinating the audit process,” said Maluleke.

The auditor general said it is only through the strengthening of the controls environment and the implementation of preventative controls that the province will be able to maintain its clean audit and ensure that more departments progress to a sustainable clean audit status.

The political leadership, according to Maluleke, should lead from the front and improve the assurance they provide.

She said they should also ensure that the administrative leadership is held accountable for their actions.

“Proper planning and budgeting, effective staff performance management as well as firm and timely consequences for poor performance and transgressions should be implemented,” said Maluleke.


Mangaung warns residents to brace for heavy rainfall



DISRUPTIVE DOWNPOUR LOOMING . . . Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality has warned heavy rainfall is expected to pound the capital

The Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality has warned residents in and around the Free State capital to brace for heavy rainfall that could cause flooding this Friday.

The municipality is urging drivers to take extra caution by reducing speed and switching their headlights on, while pedestrians are being reminded to be careful when crossing the road and to avoid crossing rivers and streams where water is above the ankles.

“Residents of Mangaung Metro, particularly in the former Naledi region, are urged to be cautious on the road and in their homes as the South African Weather Service has issued an impact-based warning . . . for possible disruptive rainfall,” the metro said in a statement.

“This warning is valid for Friday, 20 May 2022 until Saturday, 21 May 2022.”

“Heavy rains are also predicted in Bloemfontein on Friday,” it added.

“Localised flooding can be expected in susceptible low-lying areas, roads, formal/informal settlements and bridges.” – Staff Reporter

Continue Reading


Mangaung speaker vows not to be silenced by charges



DEFIANT . . . Mangaung council speaker Stefani Lockman-Naidoo

Mangaung council speaker Stefani Lockman-Naidoo has vowed not to stop fighting corruption in the metro after she was summoned to a disciplinary hearing set for next month for disobeying her party, the ANC, resulting in the axing and suspension of senior officials in the municipality.

The ANC Mangaung Interim Regional Committee (IRC) has summoned her to a disciplinary hearing on June 7 to answer to charges of knowingly and intentionally defying a resolution of the ANC Caucus in council after she allowed a motion to be debated without referring it to party structures in the council.

Lockman-Naidoo’s tiff with her party dates back to January when the Mangaung IRC announced her suspension after she was accused of defying the ANC’s instruction no to proceed with a sitting which resulted in then acting city manager Sello More being removed from office.

The Mangaung speaker also told The Free Stater on Thursday that she was being targeted for presiding over a recent council sitting that resolved to suspend several allegedly corrupt officials in the municipality.

“We are being charged for suspending a corrupt HOD (head of department),” said Lockman-Naidoo, referring to David Nkaiseng who heads corporate services.

A council meeting held on May 12 – after receiving an investigation report from Matlho Attorneys – resolved, among others, to bring charges against Nkaiseng for his alleged role in unlawfully appointing the officials resulting in the flouting of municipal policy of appointment of officials as well as flouting municipal staff regulations and the code of conduct for municipal officials.

“We are being targeted because we are purging these corrupt officials of Mangaung,” charged Lockman-Naidoo.

“I will not tolerate any corruption . . . Wherever I go I will be known as that speaker that didn’t tolerate corruption,” she added confidently.

The speaker was however quick to point out that those charging her had no authority to do so.

“But you see, the charges are not from the ANC because they didn’t ask for permission from the provincial coordinator (Paseka Nompondo) to charge us,” she said.

“The region itself is an illegitimate structure. Its term has expired and these are just factions . . .

“It’s a faction of the region that is charging us – it’s not the ANC.

“They are the ones that are purging us because we are not part of their faction.

“This is what’s going on. They don’t tolerate me.”

Lockman-Naidoo claimed the faction was not happy with the suspension of the HOD.

“The council resolution . . . says several criminal charges must be opened against the HOD himself and relevant officials,” she said.

“And I’m wrong for suspending a person like that?

“I don’t mind being charged at all because we did the right thing as council.

“They are saying . . . they are charging us because I allowed the item to sit in council.

“It’s not my item – it’s a council item. I couldn’t remove it. There was nothing I could do.”

Council also resolved that Nzimeni Maswabi be charged by acting city manager for his role in approving unlawful staff appointments.

It also wants Thabang Joseph Mpeli to be charged for his role in the drafting of unlawful appointment letters.

However, ANC Mangaung IRC spokesperson Ncamisa Ngxangisa has dismissed Lockman-Naidoo’s claims saying the party was not targeting anyone but it simply wanted to put its house in order.

In a separate interview, Ngxangisa said there were concerns some councillors could be working with the opposition, hence the probe.

“We are not targeting individuals. We are dealing with members of the ANC who happen to be councillors in this regard,” he told The Free Stater.

“This is after we received concerns that there could be some members who are voting with the opposition, against the position of the caucus of the ANC in that municipality.

“We took everything as it is, and referred the matter to our sub-committee that deals with issues of discipline so that they inquire into all these allegations levelled against all these comrades.

“But at the same time, it gives these comrades an opportunity to respond or query any evidence that may be presented against them.”

Ngxangisa said every organisation implements disciplinary processes when something goes wrong and the ANC was only exercising its right to do so.

“We are a political party, we contest elections,” he said.

“We are relying on our councillors to make sure that our policy position and decisions find expression in that council.

“If there are allegations that such is not happening, any self-loving political party will stand up and do something about it.

“These accusations are neither here nor there – no one is targeted.

“There are concerns that the centre is not holding in that municipality.

“Our caucus through the chief whip is not given enough support by our councillors and there are such allegations.

“That’s a cause for serious concern which must be attended to so that the ANC can at least enjoy its majority in that municipality.”

The Mangaung IRC spokesperson emphasised that the ANC was firmly against any corrupt activities but indicated that councillors were expected to represent the interests of the party and not their own.

“When we say all councillors must toe this line, we expect everyone to toe that line. Anyone who goes astray is a concern to us,” he said.  – Staff Reporter

Continue Reading


Centlec warns cable theft masterminds



STOLEN . . . Part of the copper cable recovered by the police

Power distribution company Centlec has issued a stern warning to people believed to be hired by unknown individuals or syndicates to steal copper cables from the power lines saying it will not allow them to destroy such key infrastructure and put the country’s economy at risk.

“This is war and we will fight it tooth and nail,” said Centlec in a statement.

“We want to send a strong message to the criminals and their handlers that we will not rest until they are behind bars,” added the company, which distributes electricity to Mangaung and surrounding municipalities.

It said it is aware that most of the criminals are just fronts who are sent by kingpins who then process the copper before selling it.

Centlec warned the kingpins that they would soon face the full might of the law.

“Some of the fronts happen to be vulnerable foreign nationals who are being used to steal our cables by their handlers,” said the company.

A joint operation by Centlec and the police in recent weeks has led to several arrests and the recovery of hundreds of kilogrammes of copper cable destined for scrapyards.

In the latest three incidents, a man was arrested in Botshabelo after being found in possession of copper cable believed to have been stolen.

Several people were also arrested following inspections at two scrapyards in Botshabelo where large amounts of copper were found.

At a scrapyard in Bloemfontein, a man was issued with a fine after he was found with copper weighing 150kg which he failed to account for.

Investigations are still underway to ascertain the real owner of the scrapyard for possible arrest.

“We are worried that many of these scrapyards are becoming a haven for criminals and promoting criminality,” said Centlec chief executive officer Malefane Sekoboto. – Staff Reporter

Continue Reading


Copyright © 2022. The Free Stater. All Rights Reserved