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Cape Town - The DA has called on the auditor-general to name the consultants who have clocked up R102 billion in fees for services to government departments in three years.

This follows a report presented by deputy auditor-general Kimi Makwetu last week spelling out the government’s use of consultants, the poor management and monitoring of their work, deficiencies in planning and appointment processes, limited transfer of skills during projects, and problems with closing and finalising projects.

Eight national departments had spent R24.6bn on consultants and provincial departments R68.5bn. Other national departments, which were not audited, spent R8.9bn of the total, the report said.

DA public service spokesman Kobus Marais said yesterday that while much had been said about the cost, role and appropriateness of this, the question had to be asked: “Who are these consultants?”

He said he would write to auditor-general Terence Nombembe asking him to make public the names of the consultants used by the eight government departments that underwent the performance audit and exactly how much was spent on each.

He said in the DA-run Western Cape the appointment of consultants was an “open and transparent process” as the names of all consultants and service providers were publicly available.

“We need to have a capacitated public service that uses consultants prudently and transparently. Appointing politically connected individuals as consultants and service providers destroys the capacity of the state to deliver,” Marais said.

The SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) also said it was “outraged at the extent to which government utilises consultants and squanders billions of rands”.

It said it had long “decried” the “chronic dependency on consultants” at local government level.

“The problem of referring challenges to consultants is that it tends to reinforce a poor planning culture within departments, and leads to consultants being brought in to firefight.”

The over-use of consultants also “releases senior government officials from the responsibility of developing capacity within their own departments”.

It allowed ministers and senior officials to shift the blame for failures and led to accountability being “chronically eroded”.

“It is now universally accepted that if consultants are used in this manner, opportunities for corruption are immeasurably enhanced,” the union said.

It called for a moratorium on the use of consultants until the government had established the capacity to plan and monitor their work, and called for an investigation into the use of consultants, “including a register detailing their delivery successes and failures”.

Political Bureau