October 23, 2018

Briefs that show all: At last AG may be able to do something

After the shocking recent audit outcomes from departments, state entities, municipalities and others, it was decided something had to be done.

This followed a move by the Standing Committee on the Auditor-General, which in terms of the Public Audit Act, 2004 gives supreme auditing functions to the Auditor-General of South Africa.

However those supreme powers don’t give the AGSA authority to implement its recommendations, investigate undesirable audit outcomes or recover losses to the State. For that the AGSA depends on the executive to implement its recommendations.

According to the Rules of the National Assembly all that the Standing Committee on the Auditor General is charged with is “assisting and protecting the AGSA in order for the latter to maintain its independence, impartiality, dignity and effectiveness”. That’s not easy when each year the AGSA reported astronomical amounts of unauthorised, irregular and fruitless and wasteful expenditure that it can do nothing about.

But that’s now all changed. On 22 May 2018 the Standing Committee on the Auditor-General adopted the Public Audit Amendment Bill, B13 of 2018, which gave the AGSA powers to, amongst others, recover financial losses incurred through unauthorised, irregular and fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

To pass an amendment in Parliament is always quite a process. On 16 November 2017 the Committee resolved to amend the Act in order to strengthen the AGSA. The Committee accordingly submitted a legislative proposal to the National Assembly in terms of National Assembly Rule 273 seeking permission to proceed with the preparation of a draft bill. The National Assembly granted permission for the Committee to proceed with the proposed legislation, and the Draft Public Audit Amendment Bill was published in the Government Gazette 41386 on 19 January 2018 to allow members of the public opportunity to share their views with the Committee.

Enough said. After the mandatory public hearings, Committee briefings, Committee recommendations to that Parliament, negotiations with Treasury, etc (I will skip quite a few steps of the process at this point), a conclusion was reached: Report to be considered.

No point in giving away the ending. Watch the 2019 audit to find out what happened next.

NCOP justice committee has its work cut out for it

The NCOP’s Select Committee on Security and Justice has been asked to consider the following:

  • A report about Magistrate Mr M D Hinxa, Chief Magistrate of Bloemfontein, who is alleged to have raped a 42year old woman from Botshabelo on 29 July 2016. The complainant had reported the matter on several occasions to different police stations. They all refused to open a case, hence her letter to the Minister as a last
  • A decision by the Minister for Justice and Correctional Service to withhold the remuneration of magistrate Ms F K Jasone-Twala, an Acting Additional Magistrate at George, due to prima facie evidence that she suffers from alcohol dependency which has a continuous detrimental effect on her daily work performance as a judicial Her conduct has a detrimental effect on the smooth running of the courts as when she reports for duty, the possibility exists that she would be intoxicated and not be able to dispense justice in the cases on her court roll.
  • A report tabled by the Minister for Justice and Correctional Service to withhold the remuneration of magistrate Mr M J Kgomo, an Additional Magistrate at Randburg, and provisionally suspended him from office following a charge of corruption in which it alleged that he demanded and received R150 000 in exchange for positively influencing the outcome of an appeal for extradition brought by the complainant in the particular matter. The complainant had to face charges of corruption in another country amounting to R20 million. The money was recovered in Mr Kgomo's briefcase in his office and in his presence.
  • A report to withhold the remuneration of magistrate Ms RM Malahlela, an aspirant additional Magistrate at Delmas, due to poor performance, irregularities in her work, absenteeism from office, refusal to execute lawful orders, major delays in handing down judgments, failure to finalise matters and poor utilisation of court time, absence for considerable periods and unable to explain her absence, mistakes in the Criminal Court that had a negative impact on the right to a fair trial; similarly, mistakes made in the Family Court; long outstanding debt for private phone calls made from the land line of the office; and tendency to be absent on Mondays which extends to
  • A report on the suspension and removal from office of Mr IWOM Morake, Magistrate at Lichtenburg, on the ground of misconduct after he was convicted him on two counts of theft and sentenced to four years’ imprisonment
  • A report for the Minister for Justice and Correctional Service to withhold the remuneration of magistrate Ms JF Van Schalkwyk, Chief Magistrate at Kempton Park, following his facing 18 counts of misconduct.

The IEC urges Parliament to speed up

The IEC reported that it was ready to preside over the general elections, which would take place between May and August 2019, but it urged Parliament to speed up the processing of amendments to the electoral laws in time for the elections. The Electoral Laws Amendment Bill, once approved, would make provision for the electronic registration of political parties and the electronic submission of party candidate lists.

On June 2016, the Constitutional Court had directed that the IEC must, by 30 June 2018, have obtained and recorded on the national common voters’ roll, all the addresses of voters that were reasonably available as at 17 December 2003. It had also directed it to obtain and record all available addresses for the relevant ward segments of the voters’ roll for purposes of municipal by-elections. The IEC had asked the Constitutional Court for a 17-month extension to verify the addresses of those not recorded on the voters' roll, but reported that it had made significant progress.

 

 

Last modified on Tuesday, 12 June 2018 19:46

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