Research by the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) shows the Department of Defence (DoD) is the joint third largest “irregular spender” of public money among government departments.
Analysis of government departments and entities annual reports for the 2017/18 financial year shows “a shocking level of financial mismanagement and wasted funds” a joint statement issued by Chief Whip John Steenhuisen and shadow public enterprises minister Natasha Mazzone said.
Top of the list for government departments as far as irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure is concerned is Water and Sanitation under the leadership of Gugile Nkwinti where, the main opposition maintains, over R6 billion has been wasted. Next up is the Department of Correctional Services, overseen by Justice and Correctional Services Minister, Michael Masutha, with R3.2 billion and in third place Basic Education under the control and direction of Minister Angie Motshekga where R1.7 billion is said to have been wastefully spent.
Defence and Military Veterans, under the leadership of Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, also spent the same amount unnecessarily over the financial year that ended on 31 March 2018.
Mazzone told defenceWeb the DoD annual report was “thin on details” classified as irregular, fruitless and or wasteful expenditure. This is borne out by Auditor General Kimi Makwetu highlighting departments where irregular expenditure was identified but not included in reported figures.
She is “concerned” about VVIP transport, the responsibility of the SA Air Force’s 21 Squadron.
“A recent court ruling suggests taxpayers will foot the bill for jets never used because the DoD backed down on a contract. This was apparently in relation to the planned leasing of aircraft for use by then President Jacob Zuma and his deputy Kgalema Motlanthe in 2011. A five year lease agreement was apparently never signed and the DoD is said to have ‘started scouting around for acquisition or lease of other aircraft’,” Mazzone said.
Times Live reported in May that Mapisa-Nqakula, in her capacity as minister, was ordered to pay more than R200 million in damages to the company the lease was agreed with, but never signed.
“Essentially Zuma refused to fly in an aircraft the SANDF considered functional so leasing of aircraft is both avoidable and wasteful,” Mazzone said, adding it will have to be accounted for in the current financial year.
Another example of wasteful expenditure was at the Department of Military Veterans under management of Deputy Defence and Military Veterans Minister Kebby Maphatsoe.
“There is R103 million in an irregular expenditure balance and R5 million in fruitless and wasteful expenditure. A key example of wastage here is the ongoing failure of SITA (State Information Technology Agency) to provide a document database, despite payment of nearly R2 million,” Mazzone said.