The Western Cape Provincial Department of Health, led by MEC Mbombo, engaged with the Public Accounts Committee on its 2018/19 Annual Report. This was the first time the Department had a clean audit.
Members probed the Department on a variety of matters including risk management, corruption, fraud, conflict of interest and challenges relating to loadshedding and water shortages.
Areas of resolutions related to conflict of interests and irregular expenditure.
Opening remarks by the Western Cape Provincial Minister of Health
Dr Nomafrench Mbombo noted that for the first time the Western Cape Department of Health achieved a clean audit as compared to previous years. She acknowledges the hard work that is being done starting from the Head of Department, DDG and the Chief Financial Officer.
The Head of Department, Dr Beth Engelbrecht, also acknowledged the clean audit and noted that the Department is grateful for this however more work needs to be continuously done.
Mr D America (DA) asked, on the matter of risk management, what is being done in order to reduce risks that may impact on the Department’s objectives.
Mr M Xego (EFF) asked, in terms of service delivery, if the Department has any proposed plan to combat challenges such as water shortages
He also noted on page 138 of the report, there are corruption and fraud cases mentioned. He needed to understand the extent of these allegations and the progress which has been made to address this.
He also noted that on page 139, the Department speaks to a conflict of interest report. He asked what was done to those people who have been known to have a conflict of interest.
Ms L Botha (DA) referred to page 164 and asked what the reasons for higher salaries are. What plans does the Department have ti combat the effects of loadshedding?
Dr Engelbrecht noted that in terms of the infrastructure and water shortages, the Department has managed to draw boreholes and established tanks to capture rain in order to mitigate the shortage. The Department has invested a lot of money on technology and it is continuously in talks with the Department of Public Works to try and improve infrastructure.
On the challenge of load shedding, the Department has a response plan in place. The Department has a disaster management plan and works together with government. There is also a good relationship with the City of Cape Town. Therefore there is no impact on the services.
In terms of the challenge of concerning fraud, the Department is working closely with forensic in order to ascertain and deal with the issue reported. For now, the number of fraud cases was five.
Follow up Questions
The Chairperson asked that, given the risk stipulated on page 137, what is the risk plan in place to mitigate this.
She also asked that in terms of the challenge of water shortages in the previous year, does the Department have the costs of what it spent to put up mechanisms to combat the situation.
On the challenge of conflict of interest, how has the Department dealt with the cases and has there been any cases that arose?
On security incidents, what type of incidents was the Department referring to? Does the Department incur any costs in this regard?
Responses by the Department
Dr Engelbrecht noted that on the challenge of conflict of interests, everyone signs a letter of no conflict of interest and if they go against this, action will be taken against them.
Mr Simon Kaye, Western Cape Provincial Department of Health CFO, long process is also followed following the PP regulations. Conflict of interest in sometimes not picked up immediately because of the lack of ability to obtain information. The Department therefore deals with the information it is given at the time.
In terms of security incidents, the Department has improved the infrastructure, for example, fencing and installing alarm systems. There are security companies assisting the Department.
Minister Mbombo noted the Department has used more than R100 million for water which resulted in it taking money meant for other services because there was no additional money. The Department had to absorb this from its own budget. The Department is operating in an environment that is a time bomb and it never knows when the next life Esidimeni is going to happen.
Ms D Baartman (DA) asked how the Department projected its budgets. Is it done annually?
Mr America wanted clarity in terms of the irregular expenditures on the table on page 289.
Ms Baartman asked if the generators can use gas. If so, where is the Department at in trying to implement this?
Mr America asked about the matter of intergovernmental payments and the nature of those payments.
Mr Kaye responded to the matter of the projected time for projects, the Department has a ten-year plan renewed as well as three-year plan.
No department is happy with irregular expenditure. The Department has to continuously monitor this to ensure it is avoided (audio not clear).
Dr L Angeletti Du Toit, Western Cape Provincial Department of Health Chief Director: Infrastructure and Technical Management, noted that on the matter of using gas generators, although economically it is appropriate, it can however pose danger in terms of storage.
On the matter of intergovernmental payments, the Department has a system that entails writing to other departments in order to converge, however, sometimes some of the departments do not follow through which makes it convergence difficult.
The Committee agreed to resolutions on conflict of interests and irregular expenditure (audio unclear)
The meeting was adjourned.
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