THE tendency of provincial departments to hide the findings of forensic and fraud probes and of top officials to shield those found guilty of misconduct, makes it impossible to stamp out corruption, accountant-general Freeman Nomvalo told the select committee on finance yesterday.
Political and administrative heads of provincial treasuries had been summoned by the committee to explain what measures they have put in place to prevent fraud and corruption.
Mr Nomvalo, whose office has to monitor audit outcomes and do investigations when called for, echoed the sentiments of auditor-general Ter ence Nombembe that to stop "the rampant fraud and corruption that seems to be taking place, we want there to be consequences when people do the wrong thing. Without consequences a sense of impunity prevails and then there is anarchy."
Consequences for wrongdoing were being avoided by "interventions" where officials found guilty of misconduct were "either moved to another department or interventions were made that reversed the process of the investigation".
The rule in provinces that before an accounting officer could be disciplined the permission of the premier had to be sought, had delayed disciplinary action and sometimes derailed it.
Provincial premiers played a vital role in combating corruption by virtue of the support they did or did not give to the provincial treasuries. Provincial treasuries without the overt support of the premier tended to be ignored.
This was particularly true where investigations for financial misconduct were concerned.
Frequently, heads of provincial departments kept the results of forensic inquiries to themselves and did not inform provincial treasuries of the outcome, Mr Nomvalo said on the sidelines of the meeting.
Two of the four provincial treasuries which reported to the committee yesterday in the first of two sessions, said provincial departments seldom complied with requirements of the Public Finance Management Act that provincial treasuries had to be informed of an investigation into fraud or misconduct.
Head of the Free State treasury Humphrey Kgomongwe said when it did happen that the treasury was informed of an investigation, it seldom knew the outcome.
"They don’t feel obliged to report to us. They feel they should report to the premier," he said.
Treasuries are obliged under the act to lay criminal charges or instruct departments to lay the charges. Since 2009 the Free State treasury had not recommended criminal action against anyone, Mr Kgomongwe said.
Senior GM in the KwaZulu-Natal treasury Mmapula Motaung said a new monitoring system was being put in place.
The hearings also highlighted the inability of provincial treasuries to monitor contracts entered into by departments.
KwaZulu-Natal finance MEC Ina Cronje said the treasury had started a "massive" task to put all contracts on a database.
"It is very difficult to get a sense of how many contracts each department has. A contract may expire but the department keeps on paying it because they don’t know where the contract is," Ms Cronje said.
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