The Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) yesterday met to deliberate on issues arising during an oversight visit to the Beitbridge border fence in an effort to finalise its oversight report that will be tabled in the National Assembly.

The Chairperson of Scopa Mr Mkhuleko Hlengwa said the meeting was to finalise the draft oversight report. “We are meeting today to enable the committee to pose the questions to all the relevant structures. We are posing questions today on the observations we made, so that the draft report, which is already in circulation, can be finalised and be ready for submission to the House,” he said.

Scopa welcomed the consequence management that has begun through the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) in which four criminal matters have been referred to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). It also welcomed the progress in the investigation of cases relating to fraud and corruption on the fence project.

The head of the SIU Adv Andy Mothibi told Scopa that the case will be heard by a special tribunal on 8 October 2020 and the application is to get a restraining order to freeze the service provider’s account. “As we speak, we are pursuing civil litigation to recover the monies that have been paid to the service provider and any other related damages that may have been caused to the department,” he said.

Scopa raised concerns about the unavailability of the National Treasury on matters relating the Beitbridge project, as Scopa requires information from Treasury on the matter. In a meeting held in June 2020, National Treasury was directed to report on the directive issued by the Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure on the Beitbridge project and the legality of the content of the ministerial directive.

Scopa gave National Treasury 14 days to report back on the investigation. National Treasury has not met the deadline, something that the committee views in a serious light, as it is a failure to comply with parliamentary processes. “When we met in June, we gave them 14 days to come back to us with a detailed explanation in so far as the merits and demerits of the ministerial directive were concerned,” said Mr Hlengwa.

The committee also notes the information provided by the Minister of Defence on the role of the South African National Defence Force. Scopa will have internal discussions with the Defence committees in Parliament on some of the issues relating to this matter. “We will interact with the Defence committees on the very serious issues that have emanated from this meeting today,” said Mr. Hlengwa.

Faith Ndenze
7 October 2020