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Johannesburg - Files with details of contracts worth more than R60 million awarded by the Gauteng Department of Economic Development have gone missing – leaving officials unable to say whether the tenders were awarded fairly.
This emerged on Friday during the hearing of the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) on the department’s qualified audit report in the last financial year, in which the auditor-general made a damning finding on accountability and financial management.
The department’s acting head, Albert Chanee, appearing before Scopa to answer for the findings of the auditor-general, said that a three-year internal audit review of supply chain management at the department had found that the files relating to the awarding of the contracts had been removed from the Treasury.
“A tender was put out by the department and the process went through rigorous evaluation before the contracts were awarded,” he said.
“On requesting documents from the Gauteng Department of Finance for the AG, it was evident that documentation could not be retrieved… We will put a report in writing once action is taken.”
Nzipho Kalipa, member of Scopa, said it was not good enough that the head of the department had disclosed this without any action being taken.
Scopa members asked MEC for Economic Development Mxolisi Xayiya and Chanee to explain why six officials from the Gauteng Liquor Board were allowed to claim overtime in excess of 30 percent of their basic salaries.
According to the department, one employee with a basic salary of just R16 204 was paid more than R151 573, an equivalent of nine months’ salary.
Another official whose basic salary was nearly R34 000 was paid overtime of more than R147 879.
The officials, according to Chanee, were seconded from the Gauteng Development Tribunal to provide secretariat and inspectorate support to the liquor board. He said acting head of secretariat to the board who authorised the overtime had no authority to approve it, and had broken the rule of overtime not exceeding 30% of a basic salary. He said the people who approved this were no longer in the employ of the department.
In January, Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane suspended Khulu Radebe, the head of the department – who was charged with implementing a R90-million scheme to create 100 000 job opportunities for youths in Gauteng – “for non-performance and lack of accountability”.
Radebe allegedly failed to produce a single progress report. Mokonyane was said to have been waiting for months for the report, which was to have been the foundation of her State of the Province address for the opening of the legislature on February 25.
On Friday, Xayiya said in reference to the state of affairs at the liquor board: “We are trying to correct something that was almost in a state of collapse.”
He said the department was hampered in its attempt to tighten internal controls by the fact that there was no chief financial officer. Xayiya said measures were being put in place to ensure that the department and its agencies received clean audits.
Scopa chairman Sipho Makama said there were no proper internal controls in the department.