‘Four-day’ finance minister Des van Rooyen in bizarre overspending spree

The Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA)‚ under the leadership of former ‘four-day’ finance minister, Des van Rooyen‚ reflected irregular expenditure amounting to R1 billion – and a ‘bizarre’ 2,581.94% increase in expenditure on consumables.

This is according to the Democratic Alliance (DA) which noted that the department’s audit opinion also deteriorated from an unqualified opinion in the 2014/15 financial year, to a qualified audit opinion in the latest financial year (2015/16).

Van Rooyen was infamously appointed by president Jacob Zuma as South Africa’s Minister of Finance after he sacked Nhlanhla Nene at the end of 2015. The move sent the rand to record lows and only days later, and the president was forced to replace Van Rooyen with Pravin Gordhan.

According to Kevin Mileham, DA shadow minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, CoGTA has become increasingly dysfunctional and is failing to set the example for local governments with regard to cost containment and responsible spending.

The R1 billion in waste relates to the irregular expenditure in the 2015/16 financial year amounting to R442.5 million, plus the R589.9 million in irregular expenditure from previous years that had not yet been condoned or written off, and thus got rolled over.

The DA said that the wasted R1 billion could have been used to:

  • Fill 2,272,727 potholes;
  • Install 100,000 flush toilets;
  • Build 7,692 RDP homes;
  • Connect flush sanitation to 250,000 houses; and
  • Connect electricity to 178, 571 low income houses.

During the 2015/16 financial year, the department has seen its current year irregular expenditure increase by 184%, from R155.4 million in 2014/15, to R442.5 million in 2015/16.

The department’s total expenditure increased by almost 15%, from just over R59 billion in 2014/15 to just over R68 billion in 2015/16:

  • Employee compensation and salaries and wages both went up by 10% and 9%, respectively;
  • Goods and services increased by 44.94% – an increase of R763.6 million;
  • Spending on contractors by 42.89%, an increase of R544.5 million;
  • Agency and support/outsourced services by 1122.94%, an increase of R6.8 million; and
  • Spending on consumable supplies by 2581.94% from R4.6 million in 2014/15 to R122.2 million in 2015/16.

“In just one year, Minister Van Rooyen has driven CoGTA to a financial abyss, negatively impacting the running of local governments across the country and impeding much needed service delivery,” Mileham said.

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‘Four-day’ finance minister Des van Rooyen in bizarre overspending spree