EXECUTIONER: Scopa chairperson Hlomane Chauke will be taking the matter to Premier Thandi Modise. Picture: Elfas Torerai
Members of the provincial select committee on public accounts (Scopa) roundly condemned the failure by finance MEC Paul Sebegoe and his predecessor Louisa Mabe, who is now at education, to appear for a scheduled meeting and have called for action against the two.
The MECs were summoned to appear before the committee to explain who was in charge of the costly disciplinary hearing of the suspended finance HOD Johannes Mohlala.
This came in the wake of a December 5 report by The New Age that indicated that money to the tune of R13m had been spent on legal fees in the past two years.
The tradition in the department had been that around R400000 would be spent on legal matters per financial year with the 2010-11 financial year spend being about R350000. However, in the 2011-12 financial year, the figure jumped to R6.9m and R6.2m had already been spent by September this year.
Sebegoe and Mabe both sent apologies that the committee rejected.
Committee members from both the ruling and opposition parties said the failure of the two MECs to clarify on the raised issues was a serious indictment on governance in the province.
Mahlakeng Mahlakeng said: “We want the public to know that we condemn the attitude of the two MECs and call that they be relieved of their duties. They have not only treated this committee with contempt but have also shown that they cannot be trusted with the public purse.”
His remarks were echoed by Tediye Moerane of the UCDP, who said that Scopa had expected the two MECs to allay fears of public funds abuse.
“As a committee we must do the right thing so that the public would not lump us together with people who fail to account. This was an opportunity lost by the two MECs as we expected them to put issues in proper perspective,” he said.
Committee chairperson Hlomane Chauke said that Scopa would engage Premier Thandi Modise and the provincial legislature speaker so that the issue could be investigated.
“This is a huge embarrassment to the province and we want the two MECs to know that no one is above the law.
“We would now engage the Premier and speaker of the provincial legislature so that we can adopt a position on the two,” he said.
Chauke said they would propose a meeting with Modise on December 28 and a special legislature sitting on the same day.