New Scopa chairperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa. Picture: Bongani Mbatha/African News Agency(ANA)
Johannesburg - The collapse of Steinhoff - which saw the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) losing around R16billion - endless bailouts for Eskom and the crisis plaguing the SABC are some of the issues new Scopa chairperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa wants to tackle urgently.

Scopa (the standing committee on public accounts) acts as Parliament’s watchdog on how taxpayer money is spent.

Every year the auditor-general tables reports on the accounts and financial management of the various government departments and state institutions.

Heads of government departments and institutions are regularly called by this committee to report and account for expenditure.

Hlengwa said that while most of the committee’s intensive work would begin in September when the auditor-general submitted audit reports, there were issues that could not wait.

Among the issues Hlengwa said would receive urgent attention were Eskom and its endless bailouts, the cash crisis at the SABC, the failing Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) and governance problems at Transnet.

“There are issues that don’t have to wait for that process, chief among them is the issue around state-owned enterprises, particularly the SABC (and) the bailout that is going to be given to Eskom. There are issues at Prasa there are issues Transnet. It would be important to focus on those issues that do not need the September process,” he said.

Also on Hlengwa’s radar are struggling and mismanaged municipalities and provincial departments that have been placed under administration. He added that the debacle around the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) would also have Scopa’s immediate attention.

“Those are issues under the radar which we should make sure that we prioritise And then there are legacy issues which of course include the Sassa payment, so we need to interact and engage with the SA Post Office and the Department of Social Development to ascertain the extent of the rollout of the payment system.”

Hlengwa said the issue of Steinhoff’s collapse and subsequent loss of R16bn invested by the PIC would also be in his sights even though the matter involved several parliamentary committees.

“We will interact with the relevant chairs and determine how we take that matter forward. This matter is not lost at all to us, but it is one that will require a co-ordinated, multipronged approach from the various committees,” said the former student of Port Shepstone High School and the University of KwaZulu-Natal and Wits.

Hlengwa joined the National Assembly in 2012 and has been a member of the committee since 2014.

Political Bureau