Scepticism and criticism greeted the annual Public Service Commission (PSC) report in the provincial legislature on Wednesday, 12 October. A slew of recommendations and comments were prompted by the revelation that more than R 22 million lay still unaccounted for and not recovered from provincial departments in Mpumalanga for the 2014/2015 financial year.
James Masango, MPL and provincial head of the DA said that the PSC lacked teeth, while the EFF was incredulous that the 10 cases and R22 million shortfall accounted for the extent of corruption in the province.
“Maybe it’s time for the PSC to buy some teeth to bite,” said Masango. The EFF’s Collen Sedibe disputed the figures, citing unfinished business to the tune of hundreds of millions.
The PSC found six cases of financial mismanagement, three cases of fraud and one case of theft, across all departments, involving a total figure of R22 192 343 unrecovered for 2014/2015.
The MPLs also criticized the PSC for celebrating under the circumstances a drop in the number of financial misconduct cases from 16 in the 2013/14 report to 10 cases in the 2014/15 report.
EFF provincial leader Collen Sedibe said numbers of cases reported in the department were too low and not accurate.
“I know of many cases which would make those numbers increase. Some of the cases I have brought forward to you in the past few years and I still haven’t received a response – such as the irregular expenditure of over R36 million by MEGA (Mpumalanga Economic Growth Agency) in 2014, and R300 million in the Human Settlements Department in 2014,” he said.
“Mpumalanga has very serious issues of fraud and corruption and those issues seemed to be filtered, and not mentioned here today,” said Sedibe. Sedibe challenged that the reports did not give sufficient detail, such as in cases of abuse of power involving only “one member of the province”.
“I want to know who that member is, and what were the findings,” he said.
The PSC for its part attempted to allay concerns.
“Departments think that when they are investigated and some employees are suspended, it is official and the recovery of the money is no longer a priority. We are working to change that,” said Advocate Cameron Jacobs, the provincial director of the PSC.
“The recommendations we make to departments means we demand departments follow through, not just look at. The last resort is we issue summons to departments and individuals not complying with recommendations, and that department or person must report back to the PSC verbally or in writing …. or face charges” said Investigator at the PSC, Nalini Govender.
Fellow investigator at the PSC, Carol King, made recommendation that the departments should use some of their funds and communicate with communities about their duties, and work through local radio stations. This also would allow the public and internal departments to report grievances, she said.