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While the country is trying to make sense of the R203 million Public Works splurge on the presidential palace at Nkandla, the Department’s recently released Annual Report for 2011-2012 gives evidence of an entity clearly not in a position to deliver on its mandate.
The Auditor General (AG) gave Public Works the worst possible audit opinion, namely a “Disclaimer of Opinion”, stating that he was not able to obtain sufficient evidence to “provide a basis for an audit opinion”.
The basis for disclaimer once again refers to the lack of evidence around the “completeness, existence, rights, valuation and allocation of properties” included in the register of the R4.11 billion in state land.
Other worrying findings include the following:
The department achieved only 46% of its planned targets, whilst spending nearly its entire budget.
Although the Department is mandated to manage the state’s assets, the AG found that it did not implement “proper control systems to safeguard and maintain assets”.
The AG was not able to obtain sufficient evidence of the R171 million in irregular expenditure.
R69.26 in fruitless and wasteful expenditure. It is a matter of concern that the AG noted he could not find sufficient evidence to confirm that this is in fact the true scope of this spending.
The AG could not confirm the occurrence, completeness, accuracy, cut-off and classification of around R189.5 million in operating leases.
Investigations were not conducted into all allegations of financial misconduct by officials, and disciplinary hearings were not in all instances held for financial misconduct committed by officials.
Goods and services with transaction values over R500 000 were procured without inviting competitive bids.
Despite a 14.2% vacancy rate, the department overspent its budget for salaries.
We are fast approaching the one-year anniversary of Minister Thulas Nxesi’s appointment to the Public Works Department. At least four months of the financial year in question have passed under his watch. While we respect the Minister’s efforts to turn his department around, the Annual Report clearly shows that much remains to be done.
We advise the Minister to shift his focus from Zuma’s luxuries to ensure an efficient Public Works department.
He must immediately prioritise:
Establishing a complete and accurate register of state assets;
maintaining the assets controlled by his department;
getting rid of the officials involved in the myriad unsavoury lease deals concluded by Public Works; and
identifying and appointing appropriately skilled personnel to enable the department to fulfil its mandate.
Public Works should be working for the people, not just for the President.