The Democratic Alliance (DA) has submitted a copy of the forensic report into irregularities around the procurement of sanitary pads by KwaZulu-Natal’s (KZN) Department of Education (DoE) to the office of the Public Protector (PP) in the province for further investigation.
The submission was made to the PP’s office yesterday.
The DA’s considered view on this matter is that the scope of the report is narrow in that it does not include two key considerations. The first of these is that there is no – or very little – reference made of those who oversaw this project, including the former political head and MEC of the Department, or any real reference to his involvement at the time.
The second issue – which is more explicit in this report – is that current Head of Department (HOD) Dr Enock Nzama is not held accountable for his role. In fact, Dr Nzama – as chief accounting officer – has been excluded from any of the Department’s proceedings to hold officials accountable and is in fact a witness against the officials implicated herein.
The role of the Chief Accounting officer in terms of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) is clear – as is the Act when it comes to devolving responsibility to any other official. The reality is that the buck not only stops with Dr Nzama, he also made the request for funding and gave his ‘stamp of approval’ throughout the process. The forensic report, if initiated by Dr Nzama or as a result of his direction, may then be irregular given that he had a direct hand in the process as is clear from the document.
It is the DA’s view that Dr Nzama’s role in the sanitary pad procurement saga must be probed by the PP. As should the entire procurement process which deliberately excludes both him and former Education MEC, Mthandeni Dlungwane from any form of answerability. As the former political head of the DoE, MEC Dlungwane cannot be blameless unless proven otherwise. The DA believes that he too was involved in the process given that he was the executive authority, the lead public figure, cabinet member responsible for overseeing this project and possibly even the initiator of the project in the province. We have therefore called on the PP to ensure that his role is also investigated.
While the sanitary pad programme is meritorious in that it ensures that schooling for deserving young ladies is uninterrupted and also ensures their dignity, they were and are being robbed of a quality education in other ways – such as when large funds are looted from the Department through the various alleged criminal schemes which continue to operate under Dr Nzama and current MEC, Kwazi Mshengu’s watch.
Essentially, the DA believes that the report into this matter appears to have been set up in such a way as to find some guilty and to exclude others who may also be complicit. If this assertion is correct, this is both unfair and wrong. We remain hopeful that the PP will accept our request that this procurement scandal be the subject of further investigation and – most importantly – that it will include all who were involved this time around.