File image: IOL
File image: IOL

Deputy mayor warns against irregular spending

By KAILENE PILLAY Time of article published Dec 4, 2019

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Durban - eThekwini Municipality deputy mayor Belinda Scott will not hesitate to crack the whip on senior managers or departments who flout supply chain management (SCM) procedures.

The deputy mayor was speaking after a report was tabled before the city’s executive committee requesting that R3.5 million meant for Mandela Day programmes be redirected to events around the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children Campaign.

Scott, who chaired the exco meeting yesterday, said using funds for something that they were not budgeted for could lead to a violation of SCM processes.

This could lead to the city’s irregular expenditure for the current financial year exceeding the R581.4m incurred in 2018/19. Most of the irregular expenditure was as a result of non-compliance with SCM regulations in the procurement of goods and services.

Scott questioned why the report was brought forward after the programme had already begun.

She also questioned why the money was not used during the Mandela Day events, and why the 16 Days of Activism campaign needed more money if funds were already allocated to its programmes.

“Let’s get a full report around this by the next exco. I want to know if there was any irregular expenditure and whose head is on the block for consequence management if there was a violation of SCM procedures,” Scott said.

The municipality’s chief financial officer, Krish Kumar, said that events for Mandela Day did take place, but some programmes for it were not held due to council-approval issues.

“Now we want to transfer that unspent money to this programme. I think the issue at hand here is, why was this request not made in advance, like in September or October?” Kumar said.

However, after much discussion, it was revealed that no money had yet been spent on the 16 Days of Activism campaign, with council speaker Weziwe Thusi saying that the funds could be used for similar programmes after the 16 Days of Activism campaign ended.

Scott requested that the report be amended to include Thusi’s comments.

“We all understand the importance of the 16 Days of Activism campaign. We just want a breakdown of what the R3.5m will be used for and we want to know if all the SCM processes were followed properly,” Scott said.

IFP exco member Mdu Nkosi agreed with Scott. Nkosi added that he was concerned that council did not approve the R3.5m for the 16 Days of Activism campaign, but it was rather approved for Mandela Day events.

“Irregular expenditure in eThekwini is now over a billion rand (accumulative figure) according to the auditor-general, who reported this to us around September this year. We can’t allow officials to do wrong things. They failed to answer on how we can allow the transfer of money with no proper procedure,” Nkosi said.

He said that failure to follow SCM processes was one of the biggest contributors to irregular expenditure.

“We cannot spend this money without a council resolution. This is fraud, and we cannot undermine council processes,” he said.

DA exco member, Yogis Govender, said that it was “embarrassing” that council did not use the money for what it was initially intended for, the Mandela Day programmes.

The item was deferred to the next exco meeting.

The Mercury

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