The Acting Director-General (DG) of the Department of Transport, Mr Christopher Hlabisa, has said the bad audit performance by some entities it administers are largely as a result of leadership instability. He told the Portfolio Committee on Transport that the department has had no fewer than five ministers, and six DGs in five years.

Only one of those six DGs (Mr Godfrey Selepe) had been appointed permanently but he lasted only for a year, all others had been on acting capacities. This is the basis for the challenges we face, members [of the committee] might want to look into this, MrHlabisa said.

He appeared along for the Auditor-General's office to brief the committee on the audit opinion the department received. The AG's representative said a number of issues were concerning in the portfolio, and those included consequence management, management and monitoring of contracts, and supply chain management (SCM).

The Passenger Rail Agency of SA and South African National Roads Agency had been identified as worse repeat offenders. Most of these entities are challenged with inadequate contracts management and monitoring, they have regressed on SCM processes, the AG representative said.

The Chairperson of the committee, MsDikelediMagadzi, said the report was very challenging in every actionable programme at Prasa. The centre is not holding, even the audits are evidence, she said.

Committee member, Mr Chris Humsinger, concurred and said the AG's report is disappointing. The committee is hearing the same things year in, year out. This report is put to us as if it is for us to do something about it. Entities have regressed in many respects, and there is nothing to be proud of, he said.

Why there has been a repetition of the financial defaults in many respects, and why are we not getting into grips with this challenge? The report is disappointing, but the state of affairs is even more disappointing, he said.

He asked what role the AG could play once issues have been flagged as areas of concern. It was replied that there is nothing the AG could do other than carrying out an audit. The current framework enables those who are charged with the responsibility of acting, like the accounting officer and the accounting authority in the report, to implement recommendations.

The AG representative said clearly the current framework has not worked and that the pending Bill on the AG, once finalised, will empower the AG to intervene in the area of consequence management.

MrHlabisa said there has never been an oversight and monitoring directorate at the department but that has been established now.

This will be dedicated to overseeing entities and DrNkosinathiSitshi is tasked with building that unit so that it becomes effective.

The committee will, as part of the budget review process, later receive annual a performance report from the Department of Transport.

Source: Parliament of the Republic of South Africa