Minister Modise should account for lack of disciplinary action on corruption

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The business of Parliament resumes this month (August) with one parliamentarian itching to put the defence and military veterans minister and her accounting officer in the spotlight for apparently not implementing Auditor General disciplinary recommendations.

The parliamentarian in question is, unsurprisingly, Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow minister for Thandi Modise’s portfolio, Kobus Marais.

He wants Modise and Defence Secretary Gladys Kudjoe at a meeting of the Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD) to explain what he says is “the shambles in SA National Defence Force (SANDF) finances”.

“Reports have it the top tiers of the Department of Defence (DoD) failed to ensure and monitor compliance with supply chain management laws and contravened the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA). That no disciplinary action was taken in a vast majority of cases amounting to R15.28 billion in wasted, fruitless and irregular expenditures through misconduct, fraud and improper supply chain management last year, shows corruption is endemic in the DoD.

“This tragic state of affairs has far-reaching consequences for the country’s safety and security. Our forces battle to comprehensively secure South Africa’s increasingly porous borders. With the SANDF set to shed three thousand soldiers in the next three years it might not be able to launch a meaningful defence should political turmoil in neighbouring countries spill over our borders or more widespread riots – like those that crippled the country in July 2021 – occur.

“A hollowed out DoD is crumbling under its top-heavy structure that is either unable or unwilling to fulfil its responsibilities. Unless top management proves they can be trusted to be fiscally responsible but also to discipline corrupt officials and officers looting SANDF coffers, they surely must expect budget cuts to continue,” he said in a statement.

An indication of the corruption and fraud in the SANDF was provided in June by the force’s top cop, Provost Marshal Rear Admiral (JG) Mokgadi Maphoto.

A presentation to the same committee Marais wants Modise and Kudjoe to appear at shows 56 cases of fraud and corruption under investigation by military police, assisted by, in some cases SA Police Service (SAPS) investigators and the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) – the Hawks. Amounts involved range from R95 000 up to R8 million with 14 involving millions of Rand, Maphoto’s presentation showed.

In line with the qualified audit given the DoD by Auditor General Tsakani Maluleke, Maphoto’s presentation noted five forensic audits regarding irregular expenditure in the DoD and SANDF.

One is the by-now notorious and ongoing refurbishment and upgrading of 1 Military Hospital in Thaba Tshwane. This R10 million investigation is complete and the Hawks have a Military Police Division report.

Other forensic audits completed are for the irregular awarding of a DoD assets management contract (R604.5 million); irregular expenditure at the Catering School (R561 120); another, unspecified, asset management contract (R447 290) and a through life capability management (TLCM) contract valued at R239 040.