IFP Leader In The KZN Legislature, Mr Blessed Gwala MPL
Held At The IFP Head Office In Durban
The Inkatha Freedom Party approaches the media today out of a sense of frustration and in the interest of the public at large.
There are many serious issues concerning the KwaZulu-Natal Treasury Department which as a Party we have been raising with the line-function MEC, Belinda Scott and the present Premier, Willies Mchunu as well as his predecessor, Senzo Mchunu.
Millions, if not billions of rand of tax payer’s money is being stolen by a syndicate that is operating within the Treasury Department under the guise of the employment of consultants, the staging of Air Shows, using the services of law firms linked to employees within the Treasury Department and many more. Certain employees and friends of the MEC are given carte blanche to continue with their illicit ways but a single black female official who had the courage and a sense of justice to turn whistle blower and expose some of the shenanigans, was summarily dismissed. Does this mean that the KZN Provincial Government has outlawed whistle blowing and exposing corruption? It would appear that a “white cabal” has ceased control of the KZN Treasury.
We have raised our concerns in debates in the Legislature, in our response to the State of the Province Address as well as in the Portfolio Committees but to date no action has been taken against those responsible for the unlawful and fraudulent expenditure .
Having not received the courtesy of any responses and concern over the ongoing plunder of state resources, we have decided to come to the media and the public to make a statement and to raise our concerns on the issues that will be presented as we proceed today.
MATTERS OF GRAVE CONCERN
In terms of the “Special Investigating Units and Special Tribunals Act 74 of 1996” the SIU’s costs of running investigations are paid by the government department that it is investigating. The question is : Would an Accounting Officer or political head who might be implicated in unlawful acts call for and pay for such an investigation? The answer is very obvious and that is why we have been unsuccessful in getting answers to our queries. That is why investigations are not concluded and final reports not presented to the relevant Portfolio Committees and the Legislature.
During my Response to the State of the Province Address on 03 March 2015, I reminded the Premier that President Zuma had called for an investigation into the abuse of tax payers’ money on projects like the International North Sea Jazz Festival, Commemorating Prisoners of War – St Helena event and the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board. The President of the country saw the seriousness of what was happening and the lack of resolve from the KZN Provincial Treasury to investigate these matters so he was forced to call on the SIU to investigate. To this date no report has been forthcoming from the SIU. We know that the report will go to the President for his attention before it can be released. Our concern is that if the report uncovers anything that could implicate the Premier or the MEC for Finance (formerly Ina Cronje and now Belinda Scott), that report will never see the light of day.
The public needs to be made aware that the staggering amount of R28million of their money was paid by the KZN Treasury for the North Sea Jazz Festival that never took place and this money has not been recovered to date. Who has become rich at the expense of the poor and why is it that Treasury is not interested in pursuing the recovery of this money?
The public needs to be made aware that the former Public Protector, Advocate Thuli Madonsela, in her report “Rocking the Boat” found that whistle-blower, Ms Fikile Hlatshwayo-Rouget’s dismissal in 2013 was illegal and directed that Ms Hlatshwayo-Rouget be re-instated. But MEC Scott, apparently on the advice of her attorney, Mr Martin Potgieter, has decided to challenge the Public Protector in court. Mr Potgieter was also Ina Cronje’s attorney. What the public needs to know is how much is it costing the tax payer to enlist the services of Mr Potgieter’s law firm over the past few years and how is it that the same Mr Potgieter gets appointed so often even though there was a change of MEC in 2014.
In the same “Rocking the Boat” Report, it is alleged that former MEC Ina Cronje had paid millions of rand of public funds for private jets to take part in Air Shows thereby promoting white supremacy. The public needs answers as to what purpose Treasury purports to serve in running air shows. Is aviation not within the purview of some other government department? The public also needs to know who has benefitted from these air shows. Certainly not the public at large whose interests the MEC represents.
I would like to now draw your attention to the legal advice that the Premier and the MEC receive and question if it is in the best interest of the public purse. The Premier’s adviser, Mr John Wills is an attorney who has undue influence in what goes on in Treasury to the extent that he was hired by former MEC Cronje to fire the whistle blower. Mr Wills also has a law firm and some investigation needs to be conducted to ascertain how many government contracts his law firm has been receiving and how much of money is being paid to his firm. In fact the Public Protector’s report also raised the issue of the excessive use of white consultants by the Treasury Department.
Staying with legal matters and the Public Protector’s report, Treasury argues that the Public Protector has no jurisdiction over labour related matters but this submission flies in the face of a decision of the North Gauteng High Court on 26 October 2016 ( Minister of Home Affairs v Public Protector ) which held definitively that the Public Protector has the power to investigate labour related matters and to impose relevant remedial actions that must be implemented. Now we find that the KZN Treasury, under advice from its legal team is set to challenge the Public Protector’s injunction to reinstate Ms Hlatshwayo-Rouget in court. The question is how much will this court challenge cost the tax payer and which of the law firms that I have mentioned above will be contracted to this case? The IFP challenges MEC Scott to pay the legal fees from her personal account if she feels so strongly that Treasury did the right thing by firing the whistle blower.
We are aware that Finance Head of Department, Mr Magagula had been finalising a settlement package for Ms Hlatshwayo-Rouget but he was stopped by MEC Scott, Martin Potgieter and John Wills. The public needs to know why was the HOD prevented from settling this matter. Are the financial interests of white law firms that are connected to the former and present MECs being placed above the needs of the people?
It has been discovered that Dr Clive Coetzee who has been recommended by the SIU to be criminally charged and is a soldier by profession, is now employed by the Treasury as a General Manager of Infrastructure Management and Economic Services. He is running private air shows together with the former MEC Ina Cronje which are supported by the Treasury at the tune of R12million per show. He also runs the Mountain Biking events which are supported by the Treasury while at the same time he is also running the Infrastructure Development Projects for the Sub-committee on Major Events. Dr Clive Coetzee is in charge of engineers, technologists, professional project managers, quantity surveyors, town planners and road/ traffic engineers all of whom are located in the Treasury Department. But surprisingly when the Treasury Department decided to appoint a “crack team” to deal with the rot in the Treasury Department, Clive Coetzee was appointed Head of that team. We need to know how is it that someone who has been recommended by the SIU to be criminally charged is placed in such influential positions within Treasury? Why is it that the “Infrastructure Crack Team” is within the Treasury Department when that function should ideally reside within the Department of Public Works?
Mr John Wills, who is an attorney in the Premier’s office
has enormous influence in the Treasury Department to the extent that even though the SIU recommended that Dr Coetzee be criminally charged, he together with MEC Scott agreed on a settlement and a final written warning for Dr Coetzee. The SIU could not proceed with this matter because it was the onus of Treasury to open a criminal corruption case against Dr Coetzee. The question that arises is : Why is it that John Wills has such influence in what goes on in Treasury and is he protecting Dr Clive Coetzee?
1. The excessive use of consultants at outrageous costs under the Municipal Support Programme (MSP) must be a matter of grave concern. We find that accounting firms
are being used to do the work of state paid full time employees. These employees remain idle while consultants do their work resulting in a doubling or tripling of costs. It was envisaged that there will be a transfer of skills when consultants were first engaged, but this is not happening and no proper facilities are in place to encourage
skills-transfer in the future. The reason for this is obvious: because consultants will
then not be required.
So it suits both the consulting firms and those who are engaging them not to upskill state paid employees. The public needs to know how much is it costing Treasury to
engage the services of law firms and accounting firms. The public needs to know why is it that the Municipal Support Programme is based in Treasury when it should
rightly be based in COGTA?
2. In my response to the State of the Province Address on 03 March 2015 I referred to reports that KZN spent more than R5billion on consultants – the highest in the
country with the Department of Health itself spending R1.8billion. As the IFP we are convinced that such excessive use of consultants can only be attributed to
the ANC’s policy of cadre deployment that sees unqualified, inexperienced and incompetent card- carrying members being deployed into positions that they are not fit to occupy. The tax payer needs to know when will this practice of engaging consultants come to an end?
3. We have an Internal Audit Unit in the province which is headed by Ms Mothlalepula Motaung. This Unit is tasked with overseeing the financial affairs of all
departments in the province and ensure that they adhere to the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA). We find it highly irregular that Ms Motaung has acted as HOD of Treasury on many occasions. The question is how is she able to conduct proper and unbiased oversight over the very Department that she is often in charge of? In effect she is acting as referee and player which should never be the case if this government is serious about fighting corruption. Since there are allegations that Ms Motaung herself is involved in corrupt activities, we are calling for Ms Motaung’s activities to also be investigated.
Mr Blessed Gwala
IFP Leader in the KZN Legislature
078 290 5842