Audit shows Limpopo Premier Stan Mathabatha’s government degenerated from bad to worse in three years, with no clean audit.
THE Limpopo government’s three year regression is a sign that procurement processes have collapsed, and that corruption, fraud and bribery have skyrocketed. This is according to members of the provincial Legislature’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa).
Speaking during a debate of the Scopa Committee and the Auditor General’s reports for the 2015/2016 financial year in Lebowakgomo last Thursday, ANC and opposition MPLs united in condemning Premier Stan Mathabatha’s administration. They labelled it the “corruption capital” of SA.
This came after Mathabatha, who took over on the ticket of cleaning his predecessor Cassel Mathale’s mess, presided over a three year regression.This saw the Limpopo government’s finances degenerate from bad to worse between 2013 and 2016. Mathabatha took over in 2013 after President Jacob Zuma placed Limpopo under administration for alleged tender corruption, fraud and financial mismanagement that saw it failing to pay service providers.
According to the Consolidated General Report on the National and Provincial Audit Outcomes for the 2015/2016 financial year, Limpopo failed to get a single clean audit for the first time in more than a decade. The other eight provinces got between three and 19 clean audits each. Western Cape got 19 clean audits; Gauteng 21; KwaZulu-Natal 12; Eastern Cape eight; Mpumalanga five; North West three and Free State two.
Under Mathabatha’s watch, Limpopo regressed in the following manner:
- The provincial government’s finances collapsed from one clean audit, nine unqualified, 10 qualified, one adverse and one disclaimer in the 2013/2014 financial year to zero clean audit, 15 unqualified, seven qualified and one disclaimer in the 2015/2016 financial year;
- Limpopo’s 26 municipalities became the worst run in the country with none of them getting a single clean audit; l As for the matric pass rate, the province slipped from the middle of the table to second last after Eastern Cape;
- And the latest Stats SA’s poverty report shows that Limpopo residents are the poorest in the country. In a no holds barred debate, MPLs attacked Mathabatha’s government one after the other. They accused the premier and his MEC’s of having lost the plot, of failing to deal with corruption and of rendering Scopa a “toothless and useless” committee by capturing its chairperson Snowy Kennedy-Monyemoratho.
ANC MPLs Rudolph Phala and Elias Nong led the charge, supported by EFF MPL Jossey Buthane, Kennedy-Monyemoratho herself and DA chief whip in the Limpopo Legislature Langa Bodlani. They also accused the Mathabatha administration of ignoring Scopa’s resolutions aimed at boosting its financial management capacity.
Phala said it was “very embarrassing” and “totally unacceptable” for the number of qualified reports in the province to increase from two to seven within three years. He said this was an indictment not only on Mathabatha’s government but also Scopa itself.
It meant that supply chain management has “totally collapsed”, and internal controls, policies and procedures are no longer followed.
“It also means that the levels of corruption, bribery, fraud and collusion have skyrocketed. And it means, in practice, that this province of Limpopo is actually the capital province of corruption in the Republic of South African” Phala said.“It means Limpopo has overtaken Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga, North West and Free State as the most corrupt province in the Republic of SA. In practice, it means of the R50 billion provincial budget for the 2015/2016 financial year, only R2 billion was unqualified.”
Nong, Buthane and Bodlani concurred. Nong added that the regression was caused in part by MEC’s who had no idea what they were doing, and had appointed wrong people or fired competent officials.
“This is an indictment on the legislature and we will one day, like it happened in 2011, be surprised when men and women will drive or fly from Pretoria and come here to save this province. It’s just a warning that we must not apply for the surprise,” Nong said.
Buthane laid the blame squarely on Mathabatha’s door, saying his office had “demonstrated over a period of time that leading by example is not something that they are terribly good at”.“How are they going to play the oversight role over all these departments and ensure that irregular expenditure doesn’t occur when they themselves are culprits of the same offence?” Buthane asked.
Bodlani said the reports were a “serious indication” of the collapse of the financial management of the entire province. “The malaise with regard to the procurement shows that there is a human element involved that indicate criminality. So, as the DA we will be making sure that we push all avenues available to make sure that everyone that is implicated in these irregular processes has got to be brought to book,” Bodlani said.
African Times reported earlier this year about multi-million rand procurement irregularities in the departments of sports, and of agriculture implicating MEC’s Onicca Moloi and Mapula Mokaba-Phukwana respectively.
Phuti Seloba, Limpopo government spokesperson, admitted that the provincial government had financial management challenges but denied that it was the capital city of fraud and corruption.
“It’s not true that provincial government is the headquarters of fraud and corruption. We have made serious commitment as the provincial administration to fight fraud and corruption. Where our officials were found wanting, they have been dealt with,” Seloba said.
He said Mathabatha started a process of rebuilding the administration because it had a lot of critical vacancies when he took over.
He also prioritised financial management. “We have put audit committees in various departments, we have got internal audit. The premier himself summoned the heads of department around financial mismanagement particularly where there were suspicions that some were not having programmes to address audit grievances raised by the Auditor General in the previous year,” Seloba added.
He denied that the executive has captured Kennedy-Monyemoratho, saying they respected the legislature and its committees. The Scopa chairperson failed to respond to a request for comment.