Johannesburg - Central government took direct control of
parts of several provincial administrations on Monday in a clampdown on
profligate spending, and to try to iron out long-running problems with shoddy
A cabinet statement said Pretoria had assumed authority over
nearly every area of administration in troubled Limpopo province after it asked for a R1bn overdraft to pay civil servants' salaries.
Limpopo, the home of controversial ANC Youth League leader Julius
Malema, has been plagued by allegations of mismanagement and corruption, especially
in the award of government contracts.
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, who is under pressure to
keep public spending in check, said his department
had been concerned for several months about "financial management and the potential
"We owe it to taxpayers of this country to ensure that
their money is spent well and that there will be proper returns," he told
Talk Radio 702.
Under the terms of the takeover, the central government will
assume direct control of Limpopo's finances, as well as the education,
transport, health and public works departments.
It will investigate alleged corruption and
maladministration, Gordhan said.
Pretoria has also stepped in to oversee the finances and
police and transport sections of the Free State, and will help sort out a
funding crisis in Johannesburg's health sector.
Since the end of apartheid in 1994, the ANC government has
spent billions of dollars to improve public services for the millions of blacks
largely ignored under white-minority rule.
However, its efforts have been hampered by corruption and a
lack of qualified officials at the provincial and municipal levels - especially
since many bureaucrats were replaced after the 1994 election that brought the
ANC to power.
Last month Moody's cut its outlook for South Africa's A3
credit rating, voicing concern that pressure from unions and black voters
wanting greater economic redress for the ills of apartheid would put pressure
on the budget.
In October's long-term budget outlook, the Treasury said the
deficit this year would be higher than previously forecast, at 5.5% of gross domestic product.