Department has wasted R9bn in nine years

THE provincial Department of Education has recorded more than R9-billion in spending bungles during the last nine financial years.

This was gleaned from a collection of audit reports, including financial performance statements, dating back to the 2003/04 fiscal year.

The figure was tallied from irregular, unauthorised, fruitless and wasteful expenditure and could have been used to clear a quarter of the department’s R35billion infrastructure and maintenance backlog.

The latest 2011/12 report listed more than R350-million in spending bungles. Most are the result of fraud, corruption or gross negligence by officials and all of them contradict the Public Finance Management Act and other tender regulations in the Eastern Cape.

The Herald was only able to analyse reports back to 2003/04 because audit reports before that date are not available online and the department failed to supply The Herald with copies.

But the nine years’ worth of auditor-general reports paint a grim picture of education in the province. It shows wide-ranging examples of irregular tender processes, non-compliance with legislation and callous treatment of taxpayers’ money.

A trend is clearly visible, showing the department’s misuse of public funds spiralling out of control. Another trend clearly visible was that large chunks of the audit reports were just copied and pasted from previous years.

The worst offending fiscal was 2010/11, in which the auditorgeneral red-flagged R4.9-billion worth of spending bungles.

Despite this alarming figure, only 29 officials were charged for fraud, financial mismanagement and falsification of records during the period. They are currently facing disciplinary hearings.

Axed superintendent-general Modidima Mannya was in charge of the department at the time.

Mannya would not be drawn to comment, referring all queries to acting superintendent-general, Mthunywa Ngonzo.

“I left the department and left everything to the current SG. If you want answers, go to him,” he said.

On the other hand, the 2004/05 fiscal only recorded R45-million in irregular, unauthorised, fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

The department also incurred R297-million in unauthorised expenditure for 2011/12. And, the auditor-general found last month the department recorded R54-million in fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

This was mainly attributed to “employees’ salaries”.

Every year, the auditor-general fails to find sufficient evidence to give an exact figure on the level of corruption.

“Allegations of fraud and corruption . . . levelled against officials . . . were not investigated,” the 2011/12 report reads.

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