Fiscal accountability in North West weakened markedly during the fifth administration, when it was run by Supra Mahumapelo, said National Treasury. Picture: Boxer Ngwenya/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Parliament - Fiscal accountability in the North West province weakened markedly during the fifth administration, when it was run by former premier Supra Mahumapelo during former president Jacob Zuma's years in office, the National Treasury and Attorney General's office told members of Parliament (MPs) on Wednesday in a briefing on the month-old process of national intervention in the province.

"We are worried that there is worsening of managing public finances in the province," the director-general of finance, Dondo Mogajane, told Parliament's ad hoc committee on the section 100 intervention which in May saw President Cyril Ramaphosa move to place it under national administration.

Mogajane stressed that it was not a case of North West running out of money, but of the province failing to respect supply chain rules and use the funds to deliver basis services, noting that it had "a healthy balance" of R1.4 billion at the end of the last financial year.

"The province is not short of money but it is failing to spend it on coal-face service delivery," he said, adding: "Where we sit supply chain management is a big challenge in the province... We have a team in the province working with officials through the problems."

Mogajane said it had wracked up 834 million in underspending, with the departments of health, education and public works being the main culprits, and unspent funds of some R300 million had reverted back to Treasury for allocation "to other provinces who are spending". 

He noted that in terms of road infrastructure, North West province had a backlog of R36 billion in work, yet it was sitting with R140 million in underspending by the relevant department.

Mogajane confirmed that the province had accumulated R15.3 billion in irregular expenditure, and suggested that the premier's office had failed to provide the necessary leadership to boost accountability.  The public works and roads department alone was responsible for R550 million in irregular expenditure.

Success Maroka from the Auditor-General's office painted a bleak picture of the provincial government's lack of accountability, saying the trend had increased in the past five years.

 "When we looked at the audit outcomes we looked at the five years.... there has been an increase to 15 qualified audits in the last financial year. Only the education department has not received a qualified audit," Maroka said.

"The department of finance in the province is the only where the control environment is good."

Schalla van Schalkwyk, the deputy business executive in the AG's office, added that there had been a clear "regression over the past five years", which he said the AG's office in part attributed to department's lacking chief financial officers as well as a lack of skill on the part of incumbent CFOs. As a result the AG's office remarked a clear lack of reliable "daily, weekly and monthly controls".

National government's intervention had been crucial, he said.

"If we have not resolved this for another five years, it is going to be even more difficult to deal with at that time."

Mahumapelo was forced to quit after North West saw continued instability and protests. He has been replaced by Job Mokgoro, who appeared briefly before the committee on Wednesday morning.

African News Agency (ANA)