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Durban - The troubled Department of Public Works, led by minister Thulas Nxesi, lacks leadership, says Auditor-General Terence Nombembe.
He said those in charge of the department neither filled critical posts in time nor exercised effective oversight over public money.
Nombembe has issued the department’s property management unit a “disclaimer of opinion” – the worst possible audit outcome.
The department itself received a qualified audit opinion for irregular expenditure involving more than R32 million.
These and other problems were described in the department’s annual report released in Parliament yesterday.
In his report, Nombembe said “critical” appointments were made only in the last quarter of 2012/13.
“Instability in key leadership positions for the first part of the financial year had a negative impact on the provision of effective leadership in the department. Leadership did not exercise effective oversight of financial and performance reporting and compliance, as well as related internal controls,” read the report.
It also said the department’s leaders failed to apply effective “consequence management for transgressions” with regard to non-performance and non-compliance.
Explaining the “disclaimer of opinion” for the Property Management Trading Entity, Nombembe said he had been “unable to obtain sufficient appropriate audit evidence to provide a basis for an audit opinion”.
DA spokeswoman on public works, Anchen Dreyer said the report confirmed that the department was “dysfunctional and unable to account for its multibillion-rand budget”.
The disclaimer of opinion meant that, for three years in succession, the department’s main role – the management of government-owned property – had been “unauditable”.
It emerged earlier this week that a Joburg property tycoon and a Public Works official had been arrested by the Hawks for allegedly duping the department into paying more than R40m for six buildings it had not occupied.
Nombembe’s scathing report comes two years after Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found that the department’s R1.1 billion police building lease agreement was unlawful, invalid and amounted to maladministration.