Sipho Mabena
Premium Journalist
3 minute read
27 Jan 2021
11:53 am

‘Arrogant’ Ingonyama Trust under fire for irregular expenditure, mismanagement

Sipho Mabena

The Ingonyama Trust Board is a public entity in terms of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), responsible for the administration of the affairs of the Ingonyama Trust.

King Goodwill Zwelithini addresses thousands of his subjects at an imbizo in Ulundi, 4 July 2018. The king called the imbizo to address the issue of communal land held under the Ingonyama Trust. Picture: ANA

Members of the parliamentary portfolio committee on agriculture, land reform and rural development have expressed outrage at the lack of financial accountability at the Ingonyama Trust (IT) and the Ingonyama Trust Board (ITB).

The Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA) is concerned that the ITB’s action plans to address internal control deficiencies identified in prior years were not adequately developed, implemented or monitored, which resulted in recurring findings relating to irregular expenditure and procurement and contract management.

During his presentation of the audit report on the entities on Tuesday, AGSA senior manager Thabo Ditodi lamented that adequate supply chain management process were not followed by the entities when goods and services were procured, as required by legislation.

He said effective steps were not taken to prevent irregular expenditure from being incurred, with no checks on the conflict of interest of suppliers or whether suppliers were in compliance with tax regulations and on Treasury’s supplier database.

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According to the AGSA, the most common findings on supply chain management were declarations of interest not submitted by suppliers at ITB, procurement without obtaining quotations processes and procurement without tax clearances.

“Adequate supply chain management process was not followed when goods and services were procured as required by legislation. Effective steps were not taken to prevent irregular expenditure from being incurred,” Ditodi said.

He noted that there were significant disagreements with the ITB on audit findings and audit outcomes, with the compliance areas from prior years remaining a key disagreement matter on the operating legality of the trust.

Ditodi said not only did the entity supply its financial statements late despite a months-long extension, there were also delays experienced in obtaining management responses to communications of audit findings due to various officials being on special leave.

The Ingonyama Trust Board is a public entity in terms of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), responsible for the administration of the affairs of the Ingonyama Trust. The sole trustee to land under the Ingonyama Trust is Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini.

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ANC MP and portfolio committee member, Ndumiso Capa, said the fact that these were repeat findings on the board and the trust was worrying as it indicated lack of consequence management.

“Something has to be done because if these findings continue, it means when [ITB and IT] responded to correct them, they were not honest or there is some arrogance or some ignorance but there is something that has to be corrected here,” he said.

Another ANC MP and portfolio committee member, Busisiwe Tshwete, said the lack of accountability at the ITB and IT were of great concern to the committee and that someone must take responsibility.

“The issue if ITB is a thorny issue for the committee. We need to take a thorough look at this. I am concerned about the repeat findings by the AG [auditor-general]. My concern is the supply without tax clearance is against the PFMA….on this issue of ITB, we need to resolve and resolve very fast. We need to take a firm stand on the accounting procedures. Someone must account,” she charged.

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