Agricultural and Rural Development MEC Mapula Mokaba-Phukwana in an unprecedented move called upon the Standing Committee for Public Accounts (Scopa) to establish a neutral team to investigate fraud and corruption in her department during the their appearance before the committee on Thursday.
She told Scopa that one can ask anything in the department but will never get it in time.
She also said that she realised there was a lot of corruption and fraud within the department, citing the example of an invoice she was requested to sign earlier that week. The amount to be paid to a supplier was R68 000.
She said she refused as it was not for her to sign acceptance of invoices or recommend purchases and she did not know what it was for. “An MEC has no right to order or sign for purchases,” she said.
Further investigations revealed that the invoice was for crockery with the department’s name and logo on it.
Head of Department (HOD) Jacqueline Maesela reportedly said she did not know about the order but that somebody had signed on her behalf.
The department’s Chief Financial Officer, Lucy Seabi knew about the order and signed it, and said the person who had signed it had “delegations” from the HOD to sign on her behalf.
Mokaba-Phukwana said she was asked by the HOD the following day to pay the service provider “and investigate later” who had signed on her behalf.
She maintained systems were not in place and service delivery was not happening in the department.
Mokaba-Phukwana, in an exclusive interview, said: “I am keeping the invoice, I want to know who authorised the purchase.”
She said a chief director “sitting at home for more than a year” because of her disciplinary hearing not being finalised, should come back to work.
The director also opened a case of defamation of character against the department, one of nearly 35 cases cited among the significant uncertainties before Scopa.
Mokaba-Phukwana said the department’s asset management was not up to scratch and some tractors were just parked in a village and tanks dropped off at a village.
“Contractors are not paid, even when they are done with the work. It frustrates people.”
“There are some major things to be followed up. There is also a lot of carelessness, lots of errors,” she said.
Story: NELIE ERASMUS