The Democratic Alliance (DA) is astonished at attempts by KwaZulu-Natal’s (KZN) Department of Arts and Culture (DoAC) to mislead members of the public regarding the irregular expenditure of R2.2 million on Covid-19 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for a library that does not yet exist.
Last week, the DA exposed the Department’s mismanagement of funding at the site of the proposed Dukuduku library. This week, the Department has attempted to cover up the truth. This despite the evidence being in black and white in a document in the DA’s possession.
The document relates to a March 2020 departmental probe by the Auditor-General (AG) in which several issues were red-flagged.
• That Tekweni Civils and JN Hershan M Contractors was paid an amount of R2 292 065 for Covid-19 compliance items
• That a variation order of the same amount of R2 292 065 was initiated by ISU Consulting services – a service provider of the DoAC – which was approved by the Accounting Officer and;
• That the DoAC also appointed T2 Design LAB as the Principal Agent for the Dukuduku library project.
The audit further reveals that ISU Consulting was to await the recommendations by the Principal Agent of the project and advise the Accounting Officer of whether such a variation order was justifiable and in line with the prescript.
However, ISU Consulting made a recommendation without involving the Principal Agent. Even more shocking is that the contract for ISU consulting had already expired when this deal took place.
Further supporting documents indicate that the following PPE items were also procured;
• 2 580 masks and 416 surgical gloves
• 2 730 coveralls and
• 306 sanitizers and 118 sanitizing spray bottles
Despite this, the DoAC paid for 3 120 masks and 520 gloves, 3 120 coveralls, 520 sanitizers and 260 sanitizing spray bottles. There were also no supporting documents to substantiate the additional purchases.
It was also noted that the payment was made for the entire period of 13 months in advance rather than on the normal monthly basis and that the quantities paid for by the DoAC for the Covid-19 items were not justifiable.
The professional advice to the Accounting Officer by ISU Consulting Services was misleading. This is indicated by the Department’s approval of a further R2 172 500. It was also found that the discrepancies identified with regard to exorbitant quantities, along with the unauthorised amounts paid to contractors were not justifiable by the Department, which had no invoices and receipts for these purchases.
Based on the AG report, the DoAC under MEC Hlengiwe Mavimbela have shot themselves in the foot. They cannot try to swindle their way out of this.
The DA will be formally writing to the Department to call on them to explain these inconsistencies. We have further submitted a parliamentary question to the MEC in this regard. The AG report also needs to be made public so people can see how the DoAC is trying to cover up falsified transactions for PPE for a library that is yet to be built.
The DA remains committed to monitoring this issue and will not hesitate to take appropriate action in the event that the MEC does not.