Durban - Standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) members have given troubled entity Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife three months in which to develop a proper turnaround plan with feasible targets to ensure its financial viability.
The entity has been placed on terms to give an explanation on matters raised in the 2022/23 audit which included:
- Determining the number of assets owned by the entity and their value.
- Establishing whether any officials or relatives are doing business with the entity.
- The action taken against individuals fingered for wrongdoing.
Ezemvelo was one of the entities that appeared at yesterday’s meeting as part of Scopa activities involving government departments and their entities, and members expressed reservations about the government constantly pumping money in without getting any results.
The committee members expressed concern that the problems highlighted over the past years, including asset management, continued to haunt Ezemvelo, and called for those responsible to be fired if necessary.
One of the key areas for the committee was asset management, with questions raised about whether assets existed.
It emerged that many of the entity’s assets were not barcoded and this presented a challenge when counting them.
Scopa member Mntomuhle Khawula (IFP) asked why a spouse of an official had managed to do business with the government without being prosecuted.
This stemmed from an admission by the entity that they had not found anything untoward about the matter as the official was not part of the supply chain management unit and the spouse had stopped doing business with the entity.
“It is one issue to say sorry but it does not count, we have had politicians resigning over this,” said Khawula.
The DA’s Francois Rodgers lamented how different boards and managers had promised to change the fortunes of Ezemvelo without any tangible results.
“For the past 10 years we have heard of the wonderful turnaround plans, but the plan is only as good as its implementation.”
Another committee member Thulani Xulu highlighted asset management as a key concern, and called for the matter to be attended to with urgency.
“We need a clear timeline on consequence management,” said Xulu, who also expressed concern that asset management had been left to junior staff.
Scopa chairperson Maggie Govender said it was important for Ezemvelo to improve as this could also improve the economic standing of KZN.
“It appears that there is a lot of dead wood here and people that want to do things the way they have done before. You must crack the whip,” Govender said.
Board member Logie Naidoo said the entity had to deal with a lot of challenges in the past including the Covid-19 lockdown, the 2021 riots and last year’s floods. According Naidoo, the floods caused massive damage to the many facilities owned by Ezemvelo, but expressed optimism that the situation would improve.
“We have a CA, a HR expert and two former politicians on the board, and this a good mix,” said Naidoo, insisting that they would not allow the entity to fail.
CEO Sihle Mkhize assured Scopa members of their commitment to improve governance and the financial fortunes of the entity. He said they were waiting for the conclusion of a forensic investigation.
“We will be instituting consequence management once we have the findings,…” he said.