The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) in the KZN Legislature is concerned that R25 million will be paid to a service provider to help the KZN Department of Transport investigate how it incurred irregular expenditure amounting to an exorbitant R17 billion, amassed between the 2013/14 and 2019/20 financial years.
This information was gleaned from responses by the KZN MEC for Transport, Peggy Nkonyeni, to parliamentary questions submitted by IFP MPL and Chief Whip in the KZN Legislature, Blessed Gwala.
How can the KZN Department of Transport justify spending R25 509 300 on an external expert – Open Water Advanced Risk Solutions – for this investigation? A response from the Department states that their staff component is insufficient to deal with this volume of transactions. This raises the question: if there is a staff shortage, why is the Department not hiring more staff? KwaZulu-Natal is known to be grappling with high unemployment rates among graduates.
It is further outrageous for the KZN Department of Transport to incur R17 billion in irregular expenditure. This money could have been used to build many bridges and roads, as many people, particularly in rural areas, are still crossing rivers and have no proper roads.
This seems to indicate that officials do as they please, and disregard rules and regulations, without any fear of reprisal. This indicates that there is a lack of consequence management and monitoring. We need to remedy what has gone wrong and put systems in place to prevent a repetition of these issues. Clearly, there is a need for greater intervention, and enhanced oversight by the national Department of Transport.
Further, the IFP is concerned that the same Department underspent on the Budget for Transport Infrastructure by R1.64 billion in the 2019/20 financial year, due to poor performance by some contractors. The IFP has, in the past, raised its concerns about government departments who appoint incompetent contractors that provide poor workmanship. Serious questions must be asked: how were these incompetent contractors awarded tenders to build roads? Where are the checks and balances? Is there collusion between these companies and departmental officials?
It is concerning that the Department has not provided a list of companies that have been blacklisted due to their incompetence, or attempted to recoup money from them.
The IFP demands that all those involved in the R17 billion irregular expenditure in the KZN Department of Transport must be held accountable. Further, we call for incompetent contractors to be blacklisted and to repay the money on all the projects where they failed to deliver.
Please note: In the response from the KZN Department of Transport it was stated that Mr Blessed Gwala, MPL, is from the DA, however he represents the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP).
Parliamentary Questions and Responses
Mr Blessed Gwala, MPL
IFP Member Serving on Transport Portfolio Committee and Chief Whip in the KZN Legislature
078 290 5842