Despite two consecutive audit disclaimers, the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) paid its officials almost R4 million in “performance rewards” in the last financial year.
Facing the COGTA portfolio committee on Tuesday evening, Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma offered no explanation of how this was possible.
She also told the committee that the contract of the previous Director-General of the department had been “shortened”, but was evasive about whether this involved a payout, a redeployment, or both.
The collapse of the department responsible for the oversight of local and provincial government seems to mirror the collapse of ANC-controlled provinces and municipalities across the country.
In the last financial year the Auditor-General could not find sufficient evidence to support most of what COGTA claims as its achievements, and for which managers were richly rewarded. This includes the following:
• Whether new work opportunities were actually created in the department’s Community Work Programme (CWP).
• Whether any work was done to justify the hundreds of million of rand paid to CWP participants and supposedly non-profit companies appointed to administer the programme.
• Whether appointments of senior managers in municipalities were actually vetted by COGTA in terms of the Municipal Systems Act.
The Community Work Programme is a duplication of the Expanded Public Works Programme, and the source of more than R1 billion in accumulated irregular expenditure since 2015. The DA has long suspected that its only purpose is to make ANC membership and activism a lucrative prospect in poor communities.
But Minister Dlamini-Zuma’s department is also failing at its core mandate – to check that local and provincial government perform their constitutional obligation to deliver services.
The DA will insist that the minister explain to Parliament how officials that have looked on while municipal services have collapsed in large parts of the country came to be paid performance bonuses, and what the terms of the former DG’s departure are.