DA calls for KZN Agri Dept to be placed under administration

Issued by Chris Pappas MPL – DA KZN Spokesperson on Agriculture and Rural Development
23 Oct 2019 in Press Statements

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has written to KwaZulu-Natal Treasury Head, Simiso Magagula, (view here) calling on him to escalate an appeal for urgent intervention within the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD), by placing it under administration in terms of Section 100 (b) of the Constitution.

The appeal – aimed at arresting the Department’s ongoing disastrous decline and ensuring that the people of the province are serviced by a functioning and efficient Department – comes after yet another year of dismal performance levels, as revealed during this weeks’ SCOPA hearings into the 2018/2019 annual report.

Key indicators in the report show:

  • Yet another qualified audit opinion (with findings) for the third year in a row;
  • Frequent contravention of supply chain procedures;
  • A marked increase in irregular expenditure with R715 million, compared to R431 million in 2017/18 and R281m in 2016/17;
  • Underspending of the budget by R264 million. This as opposed to underspends of R164million in 2017/18 and R376million in 2016/17; and
  • Underperformance of entities within the Department including Mjindi Farming and ADA.

Further findings include a lack of evidence to support the reports submitted to the Auditor-General and a failure to implement consequence management mechanisms along with serious vacancies at all levels including Acting Senior Management – with 264 funded vacancies and 1 251 unfunded but approved vacancies – as well as the critical state of the Department’s infrastructure

The DA is of the firm belief that the financial and administrative mismanagement within this Department warrants a national response. The findings show once and for all that the ANC in KZN is incapable of turning this Department around and that the time has come for both the national government and the provincial Treasury to step in and rescue this critical Department.

KZN is a largely rural province, with millions of residents relying on the successful implementation of agricultural and rural development projects to lift them out of poverty, provide food security and manage agricultural resources. The continued failure of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is prolonging the delivery of justice and opportunities for our farmers and rural communities.

There is no more time for elaborately named distractions such as Thuma Mina or Khawuleza. Government must build a capable Department and implement strict consequence management mechanisms now.