Committee under Snowy Kennedy-Monyemoratho ‘toothless and useless’.
ANC and opposition MPLs in the Limpopo Legislature have accused the provincial government of capturing the chairperson of the Standing Committee of Public Accounts (Scopa), Snowy Kennedy-Monyemoratho in a bid to render the committee “toothless and useless”. This came after members of Premier Stan Mathabatha’s executive council failed to appear before Scopa to account for the government’s financial mismanagement and a three-year regression in audit outcomes highlighted during the Auditor General’s 2015/2016 report.
The report shows that Limpopo failed to get a single clean audit while several departments dropped from unqualified to qualified audits. During a debate on the matter at the Legislature in Lebowakgomo on Thursday, Scopa members said the fact that the executive had even ignored Scopa and failed to appear at scheduled hearings was a sign that they had Kennedy-Monyemoratho in their pockets.
This came amid allegations in the province that the government had awarded the Scopa chairperson a catering contract through a relative to buy her silence. Kennedy-Monyemoratho’s own colleagues in Scopa blamed the regression in the province on the committee’s failure to hold the executive accountable.
EFF MPL Jossey Buthane said: “Scopa is toothless and the chairperson of Scopa is contributing to this toothlessness. The present chairperson of Scopa must get a lesson from the previous chairpersons on what it means to be a chairperson.”
ANC MPL Elias Nong said the fact that half of the MEC’s were not even present when their departments were being discussed was a sign that they did not take the committee seriously.
Even worse was the fact they ignored Scopa’s resolution for them to appear before the committee on March 31, 2017. Only five MEC’s were present in the house. They include the MEC of Public Works MEC Jerry Ndou, of Sports Onicca Moloi, of Agriculture Mapula Mokaba-Phukwana, of Transport Nandi Ndalane and of Treasury Rob Tooley. Insisting that the no-show of the rest was an indictment on Scopa itself, Nong implored committee members to play their oversight role effectively.
“Your job is not to go and collaborate with officials in the departments to do wrong things. It’s to oversee and make sure they do proper thigs, that they do them properly and that service delivery reaches the people of this province,” Nong said.
Another ANC MPL, Rudolph Phala lamented what he said were attempts to render Scopa toothless and useless by some members of the executive. He said the attempts to render Scopa ineffective reminded him of what former Premier Sello Moloto’s administration tried to do to the same committee in 2006.
Phala told stunned MPLs that Moloto’s executive council once summoned Scopa members to the premier’s office and told them they “know that you want to be MEC’s”.
“We told them – the meeting lasted three minutes – we are doing our work. “You have no powers to call us, and actually the constitution and the law tell us we call you, not you trying to do something fishy. The executive council has no powers at all to try to call Scopa and attempt to give it instructions,” Phala said to loud applause from the house.
“Attempts to defang Scopa and turn it into a toothless committee are therefore neither new nor last.” He said pressure was also made to bear on then provincial ANC secretary Cassel Mathale, chief whip Frans Mohlala and his successor Pitsi Moloto to “turn Scopa into a toothless, useless body of the legislature”.
For her part, Kennedy-Monyemoratho blamed the executive for Scopa’s failure to hold them accountable.
“Honourable Speaker, the zero response on dealing with Scopa resolutions by provincial departments is a sign of ‘I don’t care attitude’ by most departments on how taxpayers money has been spent. “The slow progress by some departments, members of the executive council not cooperating with Scopa scheduled hearings, unpreparedness is a sign of deterrent for poor leadership and in future Scopa will take a no tolerance approach with departments who fail to adhere to scheduled Scopa hearings,” Kennedy-Monyemoratho said.
Scopa could not achieve its targets because “we were taken from pillar to post” by the programming committee,” she added. However, Kennedy-Monyemoratho landed credence to claims that she protected the executive when she refused to share copies of her committee reports with the media despite them being public documents.
“No, I can’t give you these reports. You know we are fighting with the EFF. When there are problems at home, you don’t go around telling outsiders. “I am loyal to the ANC,” Kennedy-Monyemoratho told African Times in the legislature’s parking lot.
On Tuesday night, she acknowledged receipt of African Times questions on allegations that the executive had captured her by giving her a catering contract to silence Scopa. Kennedy-Monyemoratho promised to respond the following day but failed to do so.