Jacob Zuma. File Image.

DURBAN - KwaZulu-Natal finance portfolio committee chairperson Sipho Nkosi has expressed shock at President Jacob Zuma’s announcement that the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) will investigate the provincial treasury, which he described as the best performing in the country.
 
Nkosi said he was concerned that the latest proclamation came while Zuma had not yet released a report on another investigation the unit had conducted on the same department in 2015.
 
At the weekend, Zuma announced said that the unit would investigation the province’s treasury. Among the allegations that will be probed are serious maladministration, corruption “intentional or negligent loss of public money and damage to public property”.
 
ANC MPL Nkosi said as the committee chairman he had never suspected any wrongdoing by the treasury.
 
“As the portfolio committee we have oversight of the department, and we have never come across anything suspicious.
 
“But we hope those who have done this (called for the investigation) have information that will help get to the truth,” he said.
 
He said the office of Auditor General Kimi Makwetu had for seven consecutive years given the provincial treasury clean audit reports.
 
“Therefore we have no reason to be suspicious. The outcome of the AG reports and the information we gather on our own have not pointed to anything suspicious.
 
“Even now there are very strong pointers that the AG is going to give another clean audit,” he said.   
 
Zuma has instructed the SIU to investigate allegations of:
 
* Serious maladministration in connection with the affairs of the Treasury,
* Improper or unlawful conduct by officials or employees of the Treasury,
* Unlawful appropriation or expenditure of public money or property,
* Unlawful, irregular or unapproved acquisitive acts, transactions, measures or practices having a bearing upon State property,
* Intentional or negligent loss of public money or damage to public property,
* Unlawful or improper conduct by any person, which has caused or may cause serious harm to the interests of the public or any category thereof.
 
Nkosi also questioned the whereabouts of the report of the 2015 investigation as “to date I am not aware of the outcome of the investigation”.“It would be unfortunate if this investigation would end up like a previous one whose outcome is unknown after so many years because it dents the image and the standing of the KwaZulu-Natal Treasury.
 
However, IFP and DA in the KwaZulu-Natal parliament welcomed Zuma’s announcement of the latest probe, although they also questioned the outcome of the previous one.  
 
IFP national chairman Blessed Gwala alleged that a syndicate inside the department was stealing state funds.
 
“When we raised these concerns in the Legislature, MEC for Finance, Belinda Scott shrugged them off and said there was nothing illegal happening in the Treasury.“It would appear that MEC Scott is protecting certain individuals within Treasury,” said Gwala.
 
DA leader in KwaZulu-Natal legislature Francois Rodgers said the investigation was “a serious indictment against KZN Finance MEC, Belinda Scott’s leadership.” He said the DA had also for some time been raising concerns about corruption in the department.
 
“That Treasury continues to accuse other departments of corruption, while it is the subject of an SIU investigation, is symptomatic of the ANC’s inability to create a capable state in the province.
 
It is increasingly clear that the MEC is unable to run a tight ship,” said Rodgers.
 
Provincial treasury head Simiso Magagula said the department was aware of the Zuma’s action.
 
“The Department will co-operate with the unit on any investigation into the allegations,” he said.
 
The Presidency had not responded to a list of questions by the time of going to press.

The Mercury