Sunday, July 29, 2012

Auditors intimidated, instructed to cover up corruption: report

Sapa | 29 July, 2012 10:56 Cash. File photo. Image by: Reuben Goldberg Auditors examining municipalities have been intimidated and instructed to cover up evidence of corruption, the Internal Audit Association of SA said. "In some cases, auditors are given instructions that 'you will sweep this under the carpet,'" Claudelle von Eck, the association's CEO, was quoted as saying in the Sunday Independent. "It becomes worrying because internal auditors are meant to be the whistle-blowers." She said some members had reported intimidation, but the association had no power to intervene. Auditor General Terence Nombembe revealed on Monday that only 5% of municipalities obtained clean audit reports in the 2011/2012 financial year. Nombembe said he was excited that six new municipalities had joined the clean audit category, taking the number to 13. The municipalities with clean audits were in KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, and the Western Cape. None of the municipalities in the Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, Northern Cape and North West received clean audit reports. Nombembe said almost half (45%) obtained unqualified audit reports, but with concerns. These municipalities received unqualified reports after corrections during the audit process. Among the issues identified as a challenge were procurement, service delivery, and errors in financial information. None of the country's metros received clean audits while 13% of municipalities did not submit financial statements in time for auditing. There are currently 343 municipalities in the country. Nomembe commended municipalities which were putting in an effort to obtain clean audit statements. "They are moving forward towards the clean audit space by consistently committing to take ownership of municipal performance practices, insisting on adequately qualified staff and effective performance management practices," said Nombembe. Times Live Political killings not about dominance, but about the dough: SAIRR Sapa | 29 July, 2012 14:08 Political killings in South Africa are not about political dominance but about getting to the trough first. "Some of these guys literally come out of severe poverty and if they get kicked out they will be back there." said deputy CEO of the SA Institute of Race Relations Frans Cronje. "The stakes are high... it's about money." The number of politicians murdered the past five years has escalated, especially between 2010 and 2012. KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga seem to be the worst affected -- with 41 and five killed respectively. Around the country, at least 46 officials from various political parties have been gunned down around the country. Cronje said: "Yes South Africa is a democracy... but I can't think of another country that has this problem. "We [the institute] have been hard pressed to find a single person killed over an idea. It all depends on tenders and corruption." He said the issue had been swept under the carpet for far too long and was something that would become very controversial in the next five years. Historically, KwaZulu-Natal has been a test-bed since the late 80s, and to this day it is still seen as a political killing ground. ANC KwaZulu-Natal secretary Sihle Zikalala said the party had quite a few officials killed in the last two years, but was difficult to pinpoint motives. "We have called for serious interventions to crack all these cases. It's destabilising the party." Zikalala said the ANC did not want to accuse another political party, especially not before a full investigation was conducted. IFP MP Albert Mncwango said political tension in KwaZulu-Natal was because of the IFP breakaway group the National Freedom Party. Mncwango said quite a number of councillors in his party had been killed the past five years. "A rough figure, which is subject to verification, is around 10. We believe it was always politically motivated," he said. "They took place especially around the Natal Midlands and these murders escalated when there were internal ructions which gave rise to the NFP." Former IFP chairwoman Zanele Magwaza-Msibi and her backers launched the new opposition to the IFP in January 2011. The NFP has said 22 of its members have been murdered since its launch. Many of these murders had been blamed on the IFP. Mncwango said this was unfortunate. "In all their murders, that they say are politically motivated, I can't think of any IFP member who has been apprehended." NFP general secretary Nhlanhla Khubisa said the party had never blamed other political parties for the spate of murders. "We say it’s politically motivated because it started immediately when the party was formed and of course in some cases there was some kind of political intolerance." Khubisa did however say that it was not NFP members killing other NFP members. "We a threat to somebody, somewhere." So is political intolerance in South Africa too high? According to Zikalala it is. "It is a problem and the problem of political assassinations is a serious one," he said. Mncwango said there was a new brand of political intolerance in the country. It was no longer about parties defending their political strongholds. "We have a new kind of political intolerance which has to do with tenderpreneurship," he said. "This is becoming a huge influence in politics and a source of internal ructions in parties." Because the IFP was not running government it did not hand out tenders and so it had minimal infighting, said Mncwango. Zikalala said the problem surrounding tenders could not be ruled out but that would form part of the ANC's investigation into the reason for political murders. Khubisa said there needed to be a change of mind set amongst members of political parties across the political landscape. "At some point some kind of political education is needed across all parties," he said. Five politicians have also been murdered in Mpumalanga since 2007. There have been allegations of a hit list circulating in the province which had the names of provincial politicians on it. The list apparently targeted people who stood in the way of access to 2010 Soccer World Cup tenders. It was said to be compiled, funded and executed by ANC members. Two people, Jimmy Mohlala and Sammy Mpatlanyane, whose names were on the alleged hit list, had been murdered in 2009 and 2010. Cronje concluded that ANC policy was killing off parts of the party. "Look at the ANC... money has brought it to where it is." Material gain, said Cronje, went hand in hand with politics. This was especially true in a country such as South Africa where the previously poor were now in power. "The fight for tenders is desperate," Cronje said. Times Live Ghost members haunt ANC MAYIBONGWE MAQHINA and AMUKELANI CHAUKE | 18 July, 2012 00:06 An ANC flag A membership verification process in the Eastern Cape ANC has revealed "ghost members" in the party's branches. SAVE & SHARE EMAILPRINT The party has now ordered branches to reconvene their annual general meetings. Provincial and national party bosses said yesterday that dead people were signed up as new members to create branches that existed only on paper. This emerged as the appeals committee, led by national executive committee members Fikile Xasa and Mnyamezeli Booi, met to consider appeals from branch members about annual general meetings. Provincial spokesman Mlibo Qoboshiyane said the committee was expected to finalise the complaints yesterday so that pre-registration for conferences could start on Monday and the conferences the next weekend. "It is clear there are people who signed for others though those people had died," he said, adding that some members swore affidavits to regarding "ghost" members. While Eastern Cape battles with ghosts membership, other provinces have party list problems. In North West, provincial leaders are said to be behind the launch of parallel branches. A provincial executive council member, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: "I think there are more than 15 [parallel branches] in the province. "They are even going to the extent of launching a parallel structure with a membership form of a person who died, so you can see how serious these people are. "Someone died and they took a membership form of that person and launched a branch," the concerned member said. He said that when the ANC's national working committee met in the party's Dr Kenneth Kaunda region on Sunday and Monday, senior leaders slammed provincial officials who are alleged to be behind the launching of parallel structures, which he said was tantamount to "dirty lobbying". "During the visit of the committee, it was said, even the deputy president [Kgalema Motlanthe] said it was a concern that provincial general council members are launching parallel structures, and that provincial leaders are campaigning regional structures. "He said it when he was making closing remarks that leaders of the ANC are the ones who are to blame for parallel structures. "I got a report yesterday that a regional secretary launched a branch at a tavern with eight people. And [to start an] ANC branch you need 100 people, and eight people were called over to sign a register. It can't be correct," the concerned member said. Makonde Mathivha, spokesman for the ANC in Limpopo, said that though there were no current reports of members launching parallel or "ghost" branches now, but had experienced problems leading up to the provincial conference in December. "In the main, we had major problems in the Waterberg region. We had so many branches that had parallel structures and in certain but limited instances in Vhembe," he said. Dumisa Ntuli, a spokesman for the ANC in Gauteng, said the province did not have the same problems as experienced in the Eastern Cape as they checked their data base regularly. "We are very much aware of what people are up to, that is why we clean up our membership data system now and again. "We don't want to have 'ghost' members taking part in our meetings," he said. Abe Bekeer, the ANC's deputy chairman in Western Cape, said an auditing team from Luthuli House, the ANC head office in Johannesburg, had not yet started work in the province. Times Live Motshekga gets an 'F' after textbook saga Sibusiso Ngalwa, Gearge Matlala and Sibongakonke Shoba | 29 July, 2012 08:46 UNDER FIRE: Angie Motshekga The ANC has turned against Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, with members of its powerful national executive committee slamming her poor handling of the Limpopo textbooks saga and some calling for her sacking. RELATED NEWS Angie's woes mount Motshekga knew textbooks were insufficient: report Yesterday, senior members of the NEC, meeting behind closed doors in Irene, near Pretoria, tore into her failure to deal with the crisis. This came as the party's national working committee (NWC) suggested she was incapable of resolving the crisis. ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe set the tone on the first day of the party's four-day NEC lekgotla when he called for a frank discussion about the nondelivery of textbooks - warning that the party could not afford "to be found wanting in dealing with crisis points in society". The Limpopo crisis dominated the meeting, with the general mood being that Motshekga had failed in an area identified as the number one priority for President Jacob Zuma's government. This places Zuma in a difficult position as he may feel compelled to act against a potential ally - who is also the president of the influential ANC Women's League - just months before the ANC's Mangaung national conference where the president hopes to be re-elected. In his opening remarks at the meeting, Zuma is said to have been lenient with Motshekga, saying the crisis could not be blamed on an individual and that the party needed a holistic response to it. But this did not stop NEC members from calling for her sacking, with Gauteng provincial secretary David Makhura telling an NEC commission on governance that the textbook crisis exposed a "complete failure" of leadership in the Department of Basic Education. Motshekga came under more fire in commissions at the lekgotla and theNWC suggested that she was incapable of resolving the crisis. Delivering an NWC report at the start of the NEC meeting, Mantashe warned that the textbooks saga was affecting the ANC government's image. "The NEC is expected to debate and resolve the Limpopo books debacle. The crisis in Limpopo raises serious questions about the capacity and orientation of the national department's intervention in other spheres of government. On the same matter of national intervention in provinces, it is vital that the NEC discusses progress or lack thereof in the intervention in the Eastern Cape education crisis," he said. "We cannot be found wanting in dealing with crisis points in society," said Mantashe. Motshekga, who was one of only two ministers asked to present progress reports to the meeting, attempted to shift the blame to companies contracted to deliver books. She is, however, said to have admitted that it had been a mistake to hire a company which did not have the capacity to deliver the books. Participants of the meeting said that Motshekga's progress report painted an even more dire picture of the crisis in public education. The minister also rubbished a damning report by University of the Witwatersrand Professor Mary Metcalfe, saying it was "inaccurate". Metcalfe led one of three government-initiated task teams to investigate the non-delivery of school books in Limpopo. Although she appointed Metcalfe, Motshekga was clearly not happy with her final report, which found that the department had misled the nation when it claimed that 98% of books had been delivered to schools by the end of June. One NEC member told the Sunday Times: "She said Metcalfe's conclusions were not correct ... because schools had been closed in Limpopo and she doesn't understand how Metcalfe came to that conclusion. She said the sample used by Metcalfe was not a fair reflection of the situation." The NEC member predicted that Zuma would have to move Motshekga to another department in a reshuffle necessitated by the recent election of Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as African Union Commission chairwoman. "It's clear that she must go ... but I don't think JZ will drop her from the cabinet because she is the women's league president. After she spoke, there was consensus among comrades that she had failed. "Makhura was frank in one of the commissions. He said Angie is just making excuses ... the textbook debacle shows a complete failure of leadership in dealing with the issue," said the NEC member. Another NEC member who attended the meeting said: "The reports were clear ... she must go. Everybody here feels that she must leave. Even Zuma supporters are finding it very difficult to defend her." Among those who openly laid into Motshekga were ANC Youth League acting secretary-general Kenetswe Mosenogi, who told one commission yesterday that the minister must resign. Apparently Mosenogi said Motshekga was undermining the ANC government's commitment to education. "She said the minister must do a noble thing and resign [as] she did not hold anyone accountable and did not take responsibility for the crisis. She said Angie must apologise to the nation," according to another ANC leader. The lekgotla ends today. Times Live Local governments spend nearly R250m on consultants: report Sapa | 29 July, 2012 11:59 Rand notes. Image by: Russell Roberts / Financial Mail South African municipalities spent nearly R250 million on consultants to help them prepare financial statements last year. The Sunday Independent reported that in 90% of the municipalities, there were no vacancies in the finance department, but consultants were hired anyway, the Auditor General noted in a recent report. KwaZulu-Natal spent R79.8 million on consultants, with an average of R1.9 million per municipality. In the Free State, 24 of the 27 municipalities spent R32m on consultants, a 6% increase on the previous year. Limpopo's 22 municipalities spent R23 million on consultants. Municipalities relied heavily on consultants who did not have the skills required to assist them, the newspaper reported. In other instances, consultants were hired at the last minute and supplied with incorrect data. Times Live Comments by Sonny Are these ghost members being accused of ANC crime and corruption or were these members perhaps recruited in our prisons and given remissions for future deployments? Third Force or Hidden Agenda's? Love your Country but fear the agents of your Government.

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