RAL says dis­grun­tled for­mer of­fi­cials are col­lud­ing with DA to tar­nish its im­age

African Times - - News - MASHUDU SADIKE

THE Roads Agency Lim­popo (RAL) has ac­cused dis­grun­tled for­mer em­ploy­ees of bad­mouthing the agency in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the DA in or­der to get back at the agency for act­ing against ten­der ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties and mis­con­duct.

It has partly blamed for­mer sup­ply chain man­age­ment of­fi­cials for Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa’s de­ci­sion to ap­prove a Spe­cial In­ves­ti­gat­ing Unit (SIU) probe, say­ing they had fab­ri­cated sto­ries about RAL af­ter they were sub­jected to in­ter­nal dis­ci­plinary hear­ings for var­i­ous acts of mis­con­duct.

Spokesper­son Maropeng Many­athela said the agency has been work­ing hard to clean its im­age since the scan­dals that rocked it when de­part­ments in the prov­ince were placed un­der ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“In­ter­nally, the Agency has dis­missed sev­eral se­nior of­fi­cials in sup­ply chain man­age­ment, and some of those are, as it is within their right, are chal­leng­ing those out­comes. RAL wel­comes those le­gal av­enues, from the Com­mis­sion for Con­cil­i­a­tion, Me­di­a­tion and Ar­bi­tra­tion (CCMA) and the courts, as they are pro­cesses in reach­ing clo­sure and fi­nal­ity in some of the mat­ters so that the Agency can fo­cus on its core man­date,” he said.

“How­ever, it is wor­ry­ing when des­per­ate peo­ple un­der var­i­ous guises are feed­ing op­por­tunis­tic po­lit­i­cal par­ties’ re­hashed in­for­ma­tion of his­toric ir­reg­u­lar ex­pen­di­ture which pre­dates the cur­rent lead­er­ship of the Agency. RAL will be ap­pear­ing be­fore the port­fo­lio com­mit­tee on Tues­day, 22 May 2018 as part of reg­u­lar brief­ings to the Leg­is­la­ture.”

In a state­ment last week, the DA said “a whis­tle blower from RAL who ap­proached the DA has al­leged that RAL has over­com­mit­ted 2018/2019 METF bud­get by al­most R900 mil­lion”.

The party said this was as a re­sult of de­vi­a­tions not be­ing au­tho­rised by man­age­ment, vari­a­tions not bud­geted for, ten­ders be­ing al­lo­cated with­out fol­low­ing proper pro­ce­dures, and not no­ti­fy­ing Trea­sury and the AG of vari­a­tions.

Many­athela said morale and ca­ma­raderie has im­proved at the Agency since 2015, and the agency is led by a young, ca­pa­ble and com­pe­tent team of pro­fes­sion­als fo­cused on one thing: ser­vice de­liv­ery to the peo­ple of Lim­popo.

He said other al­le­ga­tions and in­nu­en­dos against the ex­ec­u­tives and other man­agers cur­rently in the em­ploy of the RAL are be­ing in­ves­ti­gated by the Board and out­comes will be made pub­lic.

“To re­it­er­ate, no in­di­vid­ual is big­ger than the Agency, and RAL will wel­come the out­come of an in­de­pen­dent probe to im­prove in­ter­nal con­trols as it con­tin­ues to root out bad ap­ples and other cre­ative in­ci­dents of cor­rup­tion that may have cir­cum­vented and com­pro­mised our in­ter­nal sup­ply man­age­ment poli­cies, in­clud­ing col­lu­sion and shar­ing of sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion with po­ten­tial ten­der bid­ders,” he said.

The agency said it wel­comed the procla­ma­tion giv­ing ef­fect to the SIU to in­ves­ti­gate its ten­der pro­cesses as it comes from a painful past, where it was ef­fec­tively put un­der ad­min­is­tra­tion by cabi­net be­tween 2011 and 2014. The Lim­popo Depart­ment of Roads and Trans­port was one of the five pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment de­part­ments af­fected by that wa­ter­shed in­ter­ven­tion.

Many­athela said de­spite that tainted his­tory, since the ap­point­ment of the Board of Di­rec­tors un­der the lead­er­ship of Matome Ralebipi in 2015, the in­ter­ven­tion and com­mit­ment by the Board and ex­ec­u­tive man­age­ment of the Agency, par­tic­u­larly to clean gov­er­nance and sup­ply chain has been com­mend­able.

“The Agency has been re­ceiv­ing im­proved au­dit opin­ions from the Au­di­torGen­eral of South Africa year af­ter year since and is tar­get­ing a clean au­dit opin­ion for the fi­nan­cial year (2017/2018) un­der re­view. Given the fact that RAL is a lead­ing ser­vice de­liv­ery road in­fra­struc­ture Agency in Lim­popo Prov­ince, nat­u­rally the bat­tle for the share of its lim­ited fi­nan­cial re­sources or bud­get from stake­hold­ers is un­der­stand­able as it of­ten ad­ver­tises mul­ti­mil­lion-rand projects,” he said.

“For the 2018/19 fi­nan­cial year, RAL has been al­lo­cated a bud­get of R988.9 mil­lion by the Lim­popo Depart­ment of Pub­lic Works, Roads and In­fra­struc­ture for op­er­a­tional costs, and up­grad­ing and main­te­nance of roads. To put it into con­text, at cur­rent es­ti­mates, RAL will need R160 bil­lion to up­grade and main­tain the en­tire road net­work in Lim­popo. To this end, since 2015, RAL adopted a strate­gic part­ner­ship ap­proach as part of the suc­cess­ful turn­around strat­egy for the Agency in which it is tar­get­ing to cre­ate part­ner­ships with the pri­vate sec­tor part­ners rel­e­vant or ben­e­fit­ing from the Lim­popo Pro­vin­cial road in­fra­struc­ture net­work to help aug­ment its con­strained bud­getary and fi­nan­cial re­sources for the up­grade and main­te­nance of Lim­popo roads.”

In April, Ramaphosa made a procla­ma­tion giv­ing per­mis­sion to the SIU to in­ves­ti­gate al­le­ga­tions made against the RAL. In the procla­ma­tion, Ramaphosa said the SIU must look into is­sues of se­ri­ous mal­ad­min­is­tra­tion in con­nec­tion with the af­fairs of the agency.

“Im­proper or un­law­ful con­duct by em­ploy­ees of the Agency, un­law­ful ap­pro­pri­a­tion or ex­pen­di­ture of pub­lic money or prop­erty, un­law­ful, ir­reg­u­lar or un­ap­proved ac­quis­i­tive act, trans­ac­tion, mea­sure or prac­tice hav­ing bear­ing upon state prop­erty,” Ramaphosa said.

The SIU will also look into in­ten­tional or neg­li­gent loss of pub­lic money or dam­age to pub­lic prop­erty and the un­law­ful or im­proper con­duct by any per­son, which has caused or may cause se­ri­ous harm to the in­ter­ests of the pub­lic or any cat­e­gory thereof which took place be­tween Jan­uary 1, 2009 and the date of pub­li­ca­tion of the procla­ma­tion.

The sched­ule into the procla­ma­tion is set to scru­ti­nise the pro­cure­ment of or con­tract­ing for goods, works or ser­vices by or on be­half of the agency and the pay­ments made in re­spect of the work. It is al­leged that the process was not fair, com­pet­i­tive, trans­par­ent, eq­ui­table or cost-ef­fec­tive to man­u­als, guide­lines, and prac­tice notes.

Many­athela said in the four years, R482m has been raised in this re­gard, mainly from the min­ing in­dus­try, and the fig­ure is fast ap­proach­ing the half a bil­lion-rand mile­stone. He said this vote of con­fi­dence in the way the agency con­ducts busi­ness has re­sulted in in­creased con­tri­bu­tions from the pri­vate sec­tor in sub­se­quent part­ner­ships.

oads Agency Lim­popo CEO Mase­la­ganyi Matjie and other of­fi­cials at a sod turn­ing cer­e­mony for a road in Sen­wabar­wana.

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