EASTERN Cape Auditor-General Singa Ngqwala yesterday called for the urgent take-over of the provincial Education Department, saying it is “literally in an intensive care unit (ICU)”.
“If you look at the history of the department, I don’t think it deserves to be given a budget,” Ngqwala bluntly told the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) in the Bhisho Legislature.
“We have tried our level best. The department must be taken to the ICU. We have a situation where fraudulent activities are taking place. It is getting worse day by day,” he angrily said.
Yesterday Scopa scrutinised the department’s finances for the 2008-2009 financial year, where it was revealed R1.5-billion had not been accounted for and was therefore deemed as irregular expenditure by the Auditor General.
The department also did not provide Ngqwala with supporting documents for an additional R2.2-billion in the same financial year for audit purposes, among other things. This resulted in an unhealthy bill for its finances, which were not a true state of its affairs.
And the 2009-2010 audit, to be made public soon, paints an equally bleak picture as Ngqwala also could not express an audit opinion. The latest audit to be released for 2009-2010 is the fifth consecutive year the department finances have been in a sorry state.
“Almost all what it is qualified on is a repeat. It means they have no regard for accounting,” Ngqwala said at the meeting attended by the department’s top brass.
Ngqwala said the situation was so bad, that R12-million “mysteriously” went missing from the department’s coffers earlier this year. Allegations had been levelled against its internal audit head, who is on suspension.
“Drastic action needs to happen. It is not nice to audit the department,” he pleaded.
“The department is literally in an ICU situation. I appeal to the Scopa members. Otherwise we are not to achieve anything.”
Committee members agreed the situation was critical, saying the department needed a complete overhaul and take-over by the national government.
Nkosinathi Kuluta of Cope said the department was “completely hopeless”.
“The state of affairs is still the same as it was it was in 1994. The systems are there, but they are not complied with.” This led to corruption being institutionalised.
Kuluta said the national Education Department should administer its budget.
Mzoleli Mrara, of the ANC, said the department had collapsed and should get rid of managers who were “populists hell-bent to please officials”.
Committee chairman Max Mhlati, of the UDM, said Scopa would haul the department before several meetings a year to monitor it.
Scopa yesterday rejected the department’s written responses. – Daily Dispatch, Avusa Group News