NEW BROOM: North West Premier Job Mokgoro
New North West Premier Job Mokgoro has refused to be drawn into alleged corruption in the province, saying rather than lying to Parliament about the state of the province’s finances, he would wait for facts.

His response was prompted by questions from MPs on Wednesday on the escalation of irregular expenditure from R8.6billion to R15.3bn in three years.

Auditor-general Kimi Makwetu and National Treasury also painted a picture of a province in dire financial straits, requiring serious attention from the state.

But Mokgoro said people had lied enough in the North West about the problems, and he would not do that to Parliament until he had the benefit of facts.

“In respect of the provincial administration in North West, in no way I am trying to shield North West from scrutiny.

“There is a tendency and culture that informs the way we do things,” Mokgoro said.

“As a matter of extreme urgency, we need to mobilise resources to understand what the root causes are in the province.

“From where I am sitting, let me boldly state that I am deeply perturbed. I cannot state I understand there are X and Y issues, I will be lying. I have said a lot but I have not said there are specific solutions. I don’t want to tell you lies because some of us have lied enough,” he said.

The chairperson of the ad hoc committee in the National Council of Provinces on the intervention in the North West, Charl de Beer, commended Mokgoro for his honest approach to issues in the province.

He said this would go a long way in bringing back integrity to North West.

Makwetu and National Treasury director-general Dondo Mogajane said the warning signs of the financial crisis in the province were there and no action was taken.

They said despite reports indicating a ballooning irregular expenditure from R8.6bn to R15.3bn, no action was taken against officials responsible for this.

Makwetu said consequence management had been ignored.

“Our orientation over the years has been advising on a slippery road so that you don’t cry fire in a crowded theatre. When we say don’t cry fire we were referring, among other things, to the need for Section 100 intervention,” he said.

The province was mostly affected by irregular expenditure, and poor financial management had not been described in “glowing terms” in audit reports in the past five years.

Mogajane said the intervention in North West was necessary because of the deteriorating financial position. The increase in irregular expenditure was causing serious concern.

“There are some irregular contracts and projects that we picked up and these are investigated by various agencies including the National Treasury,” he said.

The Star