WCape Minister says it is, however, concerning that AG is singling dept out for avoidable discrepancies
No losses incurred by provincial Department of Human Settlements in 2020/2021 audit report
13 December 2021
The Western Cape Department of Human Settlements (WCDoHS) incurred no losses in its 2020/21 financial year audit outcomes. This means that not a single cent of the public purse has been used in a fraudulent manner or for self-enrichment by any individual within the Department.
Although this commendable it is deeply concerning that the WCDoHS has been singled out by the Auditor General (AG) for avoidable discrepancies. The AG found that the department contributed 87% of the province’s total irregular expenditure. These include the disregard for procurement processes, despite concerns raised from previous years, which also dates into the term of my immediate predecessor.
The R 288 million in irregular expenditure refers to two matters, firstly a contract which concluded in the 2017/18 financial year but had a subsequent payment of R 89 million. The second matter relates to a security contract, to prevent land invasions, where R 189 million was spent during the 19/20 financial year. This contract was expanded to include other provincial departments and municipalities, when it should have been a limited bid in terms of the emergency procurement provisions and not an expansion and extension. This means other entities should not have been included, as the original terms of reference only included departmental properties.
It should be noted that in both instances there was no malicious intent, instead with the increase in land invasions, which is a continued risk for the WCDoHS, our main objective was to protect our land and properties against this surge. This is particularly important as at the time, 3 887 Breaking New Ground/fully state subsidised housing opportunities, which were planned within the City of Cape Town on the Marula North and Mahamba land parcels are now stalled due to invasions. If we hadn’t intervened more projects could have been affected.
In fact, as at 6 December 2021, since July 2020, there’s been 1 586 land invasion attempts on our properties throughout the province. For the current 21/22 financial year, we’ve already spent R 97, 23 million on securing our properties and preventing these invasions. Excluding bulk services, this means that 585 BNG housing opportunities have been lost. It is critical that we all discourage all forms of land invasions, as it is those who have been waiting on the housing demand database for a housing opportunity who are affected the most, as they have to wait so much longer.
The Department is committed to address the issues raised by the AG, and to this end actions have already been taken by the Department to address the issues to ensure that errors presented are not repeated, and to strengthen our compliance mechanisms and outcomes. I have complete confidence in my team as the Department had 6 clean audits out of 7 years before the 2020/21 financial year. The Department is committed to address the issues raised by the AG.
This team has and continues to demonstrate that it can deliver, especially since 29 083 housing opportunities were created over the last two years and 15 144 residents became legal homeowners for the first time in their lives. In addition to this, the consistent delivery of the WCDoHS is confirmed by the upward adjustment of its budget, which is not only a boost for affordable housing opportunities, but a vote of confidence in the ability and success record of my department.
As the Western Cape Government, we remain committed to clean and good governance, as this ensures that public funds are optimally used for public benefit.
Issued by Marcellino Martin, Spokesperson for Minister Tertuis Simmers, 13 December 2021