Gordhan: Punish crooked officials

2012-07-23 17:27

Johannesburg - There must be consequences for municipal officials who break the law, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said on Monday.

The government was developing mechanisms to ensure municipal officials involved in tender corruption and irregular spending were brought to book, he said.

"We are going to require the law enforcement agencies to come to the party.

"All of us can make findings here, but it is the law enforcement agencies that must be able to prepare a case, and the prosecuting authorities must be able to prosecute the case," Gordhan said.

"It is in those circumstances that we can now say there are consequences for not operating according to the law. At the moment consequences are not there.

"When the consequences are not there, then a level of impunity begins to develop."

He was commenting on a recent report on local government finances in which Auditor General Terence Nombembe found irregularities in municipal tender processes were still a problem.

Nombembe said the Treasury was beginning to establish a procurement office - announced in February - to oversee issues relating to tender processes.

According to his report, only 5% of municipalities obtained clean audit reports in the financial year 2011/2012.

Procurement to the value of R3.5bn could not be audited because municipalities had not provided the required information or documentation.

In 46% of the audited municipalities, contracts were awarded to employees, councillors, and other state officials. A total of 65% of municipalities used unfair or uncompetitive procurement processes.

Nombembe said there were errors in information about finances, skills shortages, and service delivery.

"About 91% of municipalities employ consultants in areas where they have people employed to do the job.

"There is also the area of IT and controls, where the bulk of information at local government is housed and the controls to access and security of that information are very important."

None of the municipalities in the Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, Northern Cape, and North West received clean audit reports.

None of the country's metros received clean audits, with financial statements not submitted in time for auditing by 13% of municipalities.

Nombembe was however excited that six municipalities had joined the clean audit category, taking the number to 13. These were in KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the Western Cape.

However, he said 45% of the municipalities obtained unqualified audit reports and needed the help of auditors.

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Richard Baloyi welcomed the report and commended those municipalities with clean audits. He said it was of grave concern that some municipalities had failed to provide financial statements on time.

"In that situation you are depriving us of an opportunity where we would know as to what is it that is happening and assess the situation," he said.

Baloyi said his department had already made efforts to improve staff shortages within municipalities and to address procurement irregularities.

Western Cape premier Helen Zille said the number of municipalities with clean audits was "concerning".

She said the constitution requires all provinces and national government to strengthen municipalities, and that the Western Cape had taken steps to monitor budget performance and improve accountability in its municipalities.

She said problems are exacerbated by overly complex municipal laws. Certain regulations need to be amended or scrapped, but the national government has so far been deaf to her pleas.

  • Erna - 2012-07-23 18:07

    Mr Gordhan - we all know that but tell it to your fellow ministers and president who all seem to be unwilling to put the necessary policies in place because it would mean going after their friends and family!

  • wendy.schneider3 - 2012-07-23 18:08

    what about goverment, you forgot about your buddies...

  • grace.andtruth.77 - 2012-07-23 18:19

    What does it help if everyone 'comes to the party' but the judges are on the 'payroll'?

  • malcolm.williams.144 - 2012-07-23 18:19

    There must be consequences for all officials - not just municipal officials but all public servants

  • busika.mangesi - 2012-07-23 18:25

    The Government had law enforcement that was aligned with the NPA to address this issue of corruption. Scorpions! It would be interesting to see the correlation, if any, between the disbanding of the Scorpions vs spike in corruption or the lack of successful prosecutions of offending civil servants.

  • tobydt - 2012-07-23 18:30

    The State lost R300 million through fraud and other financial misconduct by civil servants in the 2009/10 financial year. Local government employees refunded the State some R4 million but in national departments the culprits paid back only R325,171. Employees were found guilty in 998 cases. Of those, 214 were dismissed, 498 were issued with final written warnings, and the rest with smaller sanctions. There you have it. CORRUPT PUBLIC OFFICIALS were given 'final warnings'. Go suck on it Gordon. Talk is cheap. The ANC SUCKS!

  • julio.sanfona - 2012-07-23 18:43

    Watch your back Pravin. Your future in government/ANC is in danger.

  • aspruyt - 2012-07-23 18:59

    "There must be consequences for municipal officials who break the law" So from this sentence we can conclude again that the ruling party cadres are above the law. There should be consequences no matter who you are if you break the law! What a joke!

  • Vince.York - 2012-07-23 19:03

    Collapsed country!

  • fawzia.bayat - 2012-07-23 19:43

    Totally agree with you ,Mr.Gordhan & not only municipal employees, it must be from top echelons right down to the bottom, grass root levels as well.

  • ekke.oupa - 2012-07-23 19:48

    Start by appointing knowledgeable officials.

  • claudia.meads - 2012-07-23 20:40

    Lip service, lip service.., just another red-herring... If he is serious then will start with his own boss. The REAL issue is rather the open secret that multi-millions are flowing into the ANC's coffers via their cronies who are getting state-tenders (irrespective of the "tender process"). T.I.A. = "This Is Africa" - corrupt by nature is the nature of the corrupt...

  • tienie.bronkhorst - 2012-07-23 21:12

    in the same way Selebi was brought to book i assume....

  • richard.korver.71 - 2012-07-23 21:16

    My goodness Gordhan... this is a novil idea... wonder how it will work? best is to send them on medical parole directly, will definately save time and money...

  • jeremy.forbes.1293 - 2012-07-23 21:25

    This article is a clear sign that the ANC are now afraid of losing grassroots support in the townships and hence the next election because of corruption and nepotism. People are beginning to understand the direct link between corruption and poor service provision.

  • tommo.too - 2012-07-24 02:10

    \Law enforcement agencies to come to the party\. Therefore no more ANC parties I presume. Hello Escom!!!

  • sisie.indola - 2012-07-24 07:33

    Once you become a member of the government you become an untouchable, but if you fall fowl of said government you become a target with a BIG bulls eye. This is election talk, but it will be whitewashed and nothing will be done. They think that by firing a few the public will keep on electing them and the sad part is they are right.

  • andre.graber.562 - 2012-07-24 08:03

    what a a hole has it taken 20 years to realise that

  • maureen.churchill.9 - 2012-07-24 08:28

    Whats the sense of punishing after the fact, the money gone the deed is done. Prevention is needed in government, explore the avenues as to what or which avenue to take. Ask the public for suggestions after all it is our tax money you are playing with.

  • komorison - 2012-07-24 08:55

    "He said it was of grave concern that some municipalities had failed to provide financial statements on time." Please submit your tax return LATE and see what happens to you!

      freddy.vanwijk - 2012-07-25 07:48

      I know what will happen. It's considered "law" that the taxpayer is always wrong and that it may never be challenged.

  • derekneilmaclachlan - 2012-07-24 11:06

    Just like Shaik and Selebi were held accountable!!!!

  • carolyn.myburgh - 2012-07-24 11:16

    Time to change the record we have ALL heard this one before ( gathering of vote has started???)

  • freddy.vanwijk - 2012-07-25 07:44

    Punish crooked officials? Its easier said than done. Why? Because there is that weird "belief" by those "officials" that you root out crooked officials from the bottom upwards instead of from the top downwards. Yes. We all want to know how.

  • john.rattey - 2012-07-25 08:10

    "There must be consequences for municipal officials who break the law" I believe Mr Gordan is a clever man, but politics and the public domain is not his forte'. He always grandstands on the most obvious. It is one of the cornerstones of civilization that law breakers must be punished - otherwise complete anarchy will prevail. So Mr Gordan, what you should be telling us is how you and your corrupt cadres are going to fix this mess - NOT that there is a mess - we ALL know that.

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