PARLIAMENT - Public Works Minister Patricia De Lille on Wednesday said she has directed that lifestyle audits be conducted on all her senior staff, starting with her, that tender processes be open to public scrutiny, and that hundreds of millions of rands looted in her department be recovered.
De Lille tabled her department's budget vote in Parliament, outlining how her department intends to spend its R7.8 billion allocation and what its priorities for the next financial year are. The minister also announced that she is putting in place several measures to clean up the public works department, which has been plagued for many years by fraud and corruption.
The first task, De Lille said, was to ensure the department's supply chain management processes become transparent to members of the public.
"There will be no secrecy in the awarding of tenders: from now on, members of the public will be able to observe the evaluation and adjudication of our bidding processes," she said.
De Lille said, in line with President Cyril Ramaphosa's directive, she has instructed that lifestyle audits would be conducted between August this year and June next year, starting with the minister, to ensure politicians and senior civil servants who are corrupt can be identified.
A consequence management unit would be established to ensure those caught in the act of wrongdoing face the music.
The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) conducted 2,325 probes in her department, half of which has been finalised.
De Lille said the department was doing all it could to recover some R403 million in looted money the SIU directed it to recoup.
"There are presently 37 dockets registered with the police geared towards the recovery of R29m."
The minister said they were finalising outstanding disciplinary and criminal charges against those involved in the unlawful upgrades to former president Jacob Zuma's Nkandla homestead, which cost taxpayers around R246 million.
De Lille announced that the Public service Commission was finalising its report into irregular appointments of senior and middle managers at public works, with some troubling findings having already been made.
"Phase One of the investigation has revealed that 11 of the 37 senior management service members were irregularly appointed, and recommended that corrective action be taken in terms of the disciplinary code against members of staff who participated in the appointments," she said, adding the PSC had recommended that the appointments should be set aside.
"Phase Two of the investigation concerns itself with the appointment of 677 staff at levels below Senior Management Service. Preliminary findings point to 94 staff having been irregularly appointed."
African News Agency (ANA)