R1.138 billion. That is how much the Free State department of police, roads and transport have wasted; much-needed money that could have been used to, among others, fix the province’s dilapidated roads.
In a shocking turn of events the auditor-general confirms that a whopping R96 million of the R1.138 billion was unauthorised expenditure. This revelation comes as the poor state of roads in the Free State has been a hot potato in recent weeks culminating in a protest in Ficksburg.
Free State Agriculture (FSA) has just concluded a two-week district level roadshow in which farmers from across the province bewailed the lack of road maintenance, placing added pressure on agricultural activities.
Bad roads threaten food security
The farmers’ association says they are shocked at how public money is being wasted, especially in the Free State.
“Basic services are not delivered. It is not because of limited recourses, but the administrative leadership’s inability to hold those accountable who steal, mismanage and waste public funds.
“They are responsible for threatening food security and job losses in the province,” says Francois Wilken, president of FSA.
There has been an increasing demand from FSA members and supporters to investigate how and where they can withhold taxes which are being misappropriated.
Instead, the agricultural community feels these funds could be used “to do the work themselves where the state is clearly failing and providing jobs for the local population.”
‘Act sooner rather than later’
According to the auditor-general the Free State government serves as an example of the continued disregard for procurement prescripts. It was also the highest contributor of irregular expenditure (with more than R1 billion being wasted).
FSA, through its road representatives in local farmers’ associations, have regularly reported the slow pace and bad quality of road work done by a so-called “panel of suppliers”.
The auditor-general further states that a culture of no consequences has been created through the political and administrative leadership’s inability to implement consequence management for the pervasive non-compliance with legislation.
Thus, the environment was vulnerable to misappropriation, wastage and the abuse of state funds.
In a media release FSA urges the auditor-general to act sooner rather than later on the promise that it will “where she feel there is no progress, invoke the instruments in the law, to ensure that there is appropriate and timely accountability.”