Tomorrow, the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries will be conducting hearings on the Department’s Annual Report. I will be calling on the Portfolio Committee to recommend that Minister Joemat-Pettersson be dismissed.
Her department’s annual performance provides ample grounds for dismissal:
The majority (51%) of the Department of Agriculture’s planned targets were not achieved during the 2011/2012 financial year. Only 17% were actually fully achieved, even though the department managed to spend 99% of its appropriated budget.
The Auditor-General (AG) also notes that in 46% of cases, the Department could not explain why specific targets were not achieved. In fact, the majority (56%) of planned indicators and targets specified in the strategic plan were not even submitted for audit purposes. Of those that were submitted, he writes that he was unable to satisfy himself as to the validity, accuracy and completeness of the actual performance reported.
Where under-expenditure did occur, it related to important departmental weak spots. Approximately half of R36 million not spent by the Department is attributable to the procurement of mobile veterinary clinics as part of the Primary Animal Health Care Programme. This goes some way to explaining the sorry state of animal health in South Africa today and the consequent billions in lost revenue and jobs.
The AG found that the accounting officer did not take effective steps to prevent irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure. Irregular expenditure amounted to R6.1 million, and fruitless and wasteful expenditure to R12.2 million.
The department had no Human Resource plan in place during the year, accounting in part for the 949 vacancies in the department. At present, the Department is without a Director General, a number of Deputy Director Generals (DDGs) and a spokesperson. Six out of nine DDGs’ are in acting positions. The DAFF website suspiciously no longer reflects an organogram.
The AG further notes that “the department did not prepare regular, accurate and complete financial and performance reports that were supported and evidenced by reliable information.” Attempts made by the Audit Committee to meet with the Accounting Officer to address governance concerns (prior to his suspension) were unsuccessful. Attempts to then meet with the Executive Authority were also unsuccessful. This highlights the absence of leadership from the Minister.
Ultimate responsibility for the performance of any department rests with the Minister. Clearly, Minister Joemat-Pettersson is unfit to hold public office. The DA will continue to insist that she be dismissed with immediate effect.