The kak stops with me, vows new North West premier
As reports paint 'deeply perturbing' picture of the province, Mokgoro promises there will be no more lies
A “deeply perturbed” Job Mokgoro, newly appointed North West premier, has told MPs that residents of his province have been lied to by politicians for far too long.
Mokgoro made the remarks during a meeting with the NCOP ad hoc committee that has been set up to interrogate the national government’s decision to place the North West provincial government under its control in terms of section 100 of the Constitution following a collapse in its governance systems.
The ad hoc committee was being briefed by the national Treasury and the office of the auditor-general on the financial state of North West.
The reports of the two institutions painted a grim picture of the state of the North West public purse under the stewardship of its former premier, Supra Mahumapelo.He stepped down last month amid public pressure following violent protests in the province and allegations that he was using the provincial government as his personal piggybank.
The reports show that irregular expenditure in North West shot up from R8.6-billion in 2014 – when Mahumapelo became the premier – to R15.3-billion last year.
The provincial health department was accountable for the bulk of the irregular expenditure at R6.4-billion, followed the department of public works and roads at R3.4-billion, transport at R3.7-billion, education and sports at R946-million and Mahumapelo’s office at R535-million.Mokgoro, who was appointed to his position last week, told MPs he did not have quick-fix solutions to North West’s problems and needed some time to study the issues before proposing solutions.
“I am deeply perturbed. At the moment, I can’t spell it out ... that I understand these are the issues, these are the problems. I am not saying I don’t know what the problems are.
“But I think it’s when we reach a certain level of genuineness, of honesty with that kind of deep reflection in the interest of nobody but the 3.8 million people of North West ... that we’ll be able to have a frontal attack on the issues that have been highlighted.
“I’ve not said to you in specific terms, these are the problems, these are the solutions, these are the interventions … because I don’t want to tell you further lies. I think some of us have lied enough and I don’t want to do that.”
Lydia Sebego, the director-general of the provincial government, conceded that politicians in her provinces often made services delivery promises to residents that had neither been planned for nor costed.
Dondo Mogajane, the director-general of the national Treasury, said Mahumapelo’s reconfiguration of certain provincial departments such as merging education with sport, and turning his office into an implementing agency, created administrative challenges.
Mahumapelo had placed agencies such as the North West Development Corporation and the North West Parks and Tourism under watch of his office.Mogajane said this was not consistent with the norms and standards set by the national Treasury in terms of the inter-governmental framework.
“One of the key norms that we’ve agreed to over the years, is how we treat education, social development and health. North West is the only province out of the nine provinces where education, for example, is mixed with other functions.
“The challenge in this space could be how reconfiguration happened.”
Sebego provoked the ire of MPs and some harsh words from auditor-general Kimi Makwetu when she suggested that irregular expenditure did amount to the stealing of public money.
Sebego said this was often a misleading picture projected by the media but MPs slammed her. “We don’t treat it as slight when they say there’s been irregular expenditure ... because we know there’s contravention of legislation we view it in a very serious light. The document shows it’s been growing consistently at alarming numbers, so you can’t treat this thing lightly,” said ANC chief whip in the NCOP Seeiso Mohai.
Makwetu said: “We think that some people can’t be faulted, whether it’s citizens, whether it’s the media or analysts, when they choose to call it the way they see it in terms of malfeasance or anything else. It’s because we sometimes allow this imbalance to continue for a very long time.”