Defence Department; Water Affairs Departments: preparations for hearings

Public Accounts (SCOPA)

04 March 2003
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

4 March 2003

Mr F Beukman (NNP)

Documents handed out:

Members met in preparation for public hearings on Defence, and preparations for the Water Affairs hearings. The Committee heard brief report backs on the South African Diamond Board, preparations for the Auditor General's report the following week and tours to be undertaken.

The Minutes of the meetings of 19 February and 25 February 2003 were adopted, with certain technical amendments.

Preparation for Department of Defence Hearings
Mr L. Chiba (ANC) told the Committee that certain focus areas to be concentrated on in the hearings had been identified, which were given to six members of the Committee (Cluster 1). They had been requested to observe the time limits given to them, so as not to jeopardise the completion of hearings.

The Portfolio Committee on Defence had been invited to attend. They were allocated to speak at the end of the hearings, and were cautioned not to interject at any time before that. The focus areas identified included time management and excessive stock (previous calculations had revealed stock to the value of between 70 and 100 billion rands, a number which has now dropped to 42 billion rands). The management of a computerised data system, double payment of medical benefits, leave and administration of leave, local and foreign assistance, the spatial Defence account, and unauthorised expenditure were also discussed. Mr Chiba added that the SCOPA Committee would have to pass a resolution on all unauthorised expenditure.

At this point, Mr B. Nair (ANC) remarked that the Committee would not be required to pass a resolution on the last five years of unauthorised expenditure. It actually needed to present a composite resolution for all unauthorised expenditure, in all departments.

Mr V. Smith (ANC) requested a broad overview of the "state of the nation" of the Department of Defence, as he felt the Committee needed to have an idea of how the Department was progressing.

Mr D. Gumede (ANC) complied with the following report:
Compared to the situation in previous years, there had been improvement within the Department. He specifically mentioned the main problem of excessive stock levels, where the Department had previously taken into account only considerations of quantity rather than quality and value. Now, they were more prone to considering the value of stock acquired. He reported that the Department had previously suffered from a lack of commitment to any strategic direction.

Preparation for Department of Water Affairs Hearings
Mr B. Kannemeyer (ANC) reported that there was a definite cause for concern over the management of finances within the Department of Water Affairs. Four Auditor-General reports presented adverse opinions on the Department's handling of accounts.
Other areas of concern were salary overpayments, unauthorised expenditure, and internal control measures.

South African Diamond Board
Mr Gumede reported that the SA Diamond Board Report was a disclaimer, because of non-compliance, irregularities, and the nature of transgressions committed. There was a lack of competent governance within the Board which was unacceptable. There was an urgent need for a public hearing on the Diamond Board, which could be combined with the Tourism and Hospitality Education and Training Authority (THETA) hearings.

South African Revenue Services
Preparations for a public hearing on the South African Revenue Service (SARS) would be done next week. It was requested that the Committee prepare for the Auditor General's report hearings the following week.

Study Tours
Mr Gumede reported that the cluster felt the Sandton Conference dealt mainly with issues of implementation and control, whereas SCOPA's role was really one of oversight. That Conference therefore presented little value to the Committee.

The Fourth Annual Performance Measurement in the Public Sector Symposium in Miami, USA would be attended by both Mr Gumede and Mr Vezi.

Meeting was adjourned.


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