Public Works’ R134m splurge
DA condemns ‘waste’
DEPARTMENT of Public Works officials, including the minister, Geoff Doidge, and his deputy, Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, splurged R134 million on travelling, accommodation and restaurants since April last year, with R34m spent within the past six months.
This is the same department that was fingered by AuditorGeneral Terence Nombembe for buying R40m worth of software which has been gathering dust for years.
The department revealed in a parliamentary question that staff travel, hotel accommodation and restaurant expenses amounted to a whopping R100m in the 2008/09 financial year, a R2m jump from the previous financial year.
This is despite the current and former finance ministers – Pravin Gordhan and Trevor Manuel respectively – calling for belt-tightening and curbing wastage.
The department has already spent R34m between April and October this year. However, if the department spends the same amount in the next six months to the end of the financial year in March, it is likely to drastically decrease its entertainment budget compared to the previous financial years.
DA shadow minister of public works James Masango, who posed the parliamentary question, condemned the expenditure as wasteful, but the department has defended the hefty bill. It said this was within budget and that travelling was for official purposes.
However, the department said it had now introduced costsaving measures to curb travelling, accommodation and restaurant costs.
Doidge’s travel and accommodation expenses amount to about R1.3m in a year, while Bogopane-Zulu’s travel and accommodation expenses amounted to R200 000 between May and October this year.
Departmental spokesman Koketso Sachane said the minister had taken full cognisance of the need to cut costs given the current economic climate and said measures had now been put in place to ensure that money was spent prudently.
Nombembe gave the department a qualified audit because of a number of inefficiencies in the management of finances and assets.
These include the wasteful purchase of R40m worth of software which is not being used, failure to recoup R419m owed to the department for leasing buildings on behalf of other government departments, late payment of suppliers and an inability to account for departmental assets worth R249m. Doidge has since appointed Simeka Consulting to conduct a thorough clean-up of the department’s books.
The department has announced that it has turned the screws on national and provincial departments to recover the R419m.