Public Works Minister Thembelani Nxesi says an extensive investigation will reveal whether there has been an inappropriate use of funds by the department’s Limpopo provincial office.
This follows claims that contracts amounting to millions of rands had been awarded irregularly.
Limpopo Premier Cassel Mathale has said the provincial administration will cooperate with the national government in resolving the matter.
Nxesi disclosed on Thursday that the Limpopo Public Works Department awarded security contracts worth R1.8-million each month without following proper procedures.
He was addressing the media on the decision by Cabinet to implement a section 100 (1)(b) intervention in the Limpopo government in the wake of a financial meltdown in the province.
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan had earlier said national government had to take emergency measures towards the end of last year after it became apparent that the province was bankrupt. It also became clear that the province would not be able to pay teachers, doctors, social workers and other public sector employees.
“I need to emphasise that an investigation needs to get to the bottom of this. R1.8-million per month, not per year but per month, had been awarded for security contracts since 2010,” Nxesi said of the investigation.
He could not dwell on the scope of the probe, only saying that officials had agreed to cooperate with law enforcement agencies “as we try to get to the bottom of this”.
He has since taken over the responsibilities of the Public Works MEC in the province as reports painted a desperate state of finances in Limpopo. Nxesi said his office had also identified a number of risks in a report sent to him in December last year.
“Risks relating to lease management systems, infrastructure planning and project management, and supply chain management were regarded as critical to the province’s cash crisis,” he said.
His team had also identified weaknesses in asset management, with some provincial departments acquiring and registering immovable assets without the provincial Public Works Department being part of the deals.
In a separate investigation, the Department of Basic Education has set up a task team to deal with, among others, claims that there were about 200 “ghost teachers” in Limpopo who were being paid but were nowhere to be found.
“We know they are being paid but you can’t find them anywhere, they are not there,” Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said. She said the task team will also deal with reports that certain schools in the province did not receive any transfer of funds during the 2011 school year in accordance with the national norms and standards.
“The department has assessed how it could and should intervene to ensure that learner resources such as textbooks and stationery are delivered to schools,” said Motshekga.
Contrary to media reports, she said, workbooks on literacy and numeracy and other learners support materials were being delivered to all government schools in Limpopo. The national department was also assisting in ensuring school nutrition and scholar transport were in place.