Defence department making a mockery of accountability: portfolio committee chair

Committee chairperson Cyril Xaba said the department was reporting on a fraction of cases of financial misconduct, just to tick the boxes.

Defence and military veterans portfolio committee chairman Cyril Xaba.
Defence and military veterans portfolio committee chairman Cyril Xaba.
Image: parliament.gov.za

Parliament's defence and military veterans portfolio committee chairperson Cyril Xaba is angry that the department is not taking the oversight body seriously.

During a presentation to the committee on Wednesday, the department highlighted six cases, amounting to just more than R2bn, among multiple cases of irregular, wasteful and fruitless expenditure.

Xaba said the department was reporting only on a fraction of financial misconduct cases, just to tick the boxes.

This was problematic, as it denied the committee the chance of proper oversight and a deep-dive on why the auditor-general raised issues of incomplete disclosure by the department.

Secretary of defence, Sonto Kudjoe, defended the department, saying it had selected a few cases that amounted to fraud and corruption.

And in her view, not all irregular, wasteful and fruitless expenditure meant fraud and corruption.

But Xaba was having none of it, demanding that the department, within a week, present a full disclosure of all cases of irregular, wasteful and fruitless expenditure.

“The auditor-general, for many years now, has been complaining and qualifying the department on lack of full disclosure on all irregular expenditure incurred in the reported financial years.

“And today you chose what to report and confined yourself to matters that have been finalised, and yet we also wanted [to be briefed] on all matters so that we are able to monitor the finalisation of those matters.

“Accountability is not accountability if you only account on that which you choose to account on. Accountability means you must account on everything, in some cases it might be things you do not want people to know about.

“It makes a mockery of accountability to be honest, because we have asked for a report on all irregular, wasteful and fruitless expenditure recorded in the department. To me this questions the sincerity of the department to disclose this information,” he said.

Kudjoe tried to shield the department.

“The last time we came here we had 57 slides that were talking to issues of irregular, wasteful and fruitless expenditure. So we thought that this time we were requested to deal with issues of fraud and corruption. And our understanding was that not every irregular, wasteful and fruitless expenditure constitutes fraud or corruption,” she said.

She committed to provide full disclosure within a week.

TimesLIVE



subscribe

Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.