The North West Provincial Legislature's Standing Committee on Provincial Public Accounts (SCOPA) has given the MEC for Social Development, Mosetsanagape Mokomele-Mothibi until Tuesday, 19 February 2013 at 10h00, to furnish the Committee with supporting documents to dispute media reports that she allegedly paid for her friend and some officials to attend the African National Congress Elective Conference in Mangaung in December 2012.
The Committee had called the MEC to account after media reports alleged that the MEC had interfered with tenders in the department and also used taxpayers' money to pay for her friend and officials to go to Bloemfontein during the time of the African National Congress (ANC) Conference, amounting to R174 000.
Responding to questions from the Committee, MEC Mokomele-Mothibi said she takes responsibility for allowing her friend, known as Mavis to be accommodated at one of the guest houses that were booked for officials to attend a meeting in Bloemfontein and not the ANC Conference held at Mangaung last year.
She stated that the reason she agreed to do this, was due to the fact that Mavis was not only a friend but also works for a special programme in the Office of the Mayor at Greater Taung Local Municipality under the section for Women, Children, Youth and People with disability.
"The room was already paid for the Chief Financial Officer, Mr Rodney Stander, who was supposed to attend a meeting that was arranged by the department with the Free State Social Development Department for bench marking.
"Mr Stander unfortunately became ill and was admitted in hospital and seeing that the room had been paid for, I thought rather than having it going to waste, I must allow Mavis to use it", said MEC Mokomele-Mothibi.
She then referred questions about the other officials to the Head of the Department, Ms Matshidiso Mogale, who said the trip for the officials including herself had been booked for an official meeting with the Department of Social Development in the Free State but was later cancelled.
A series of questions from the Committee members were posed to the group and they were summoned to respond to them with supporting documentation that would speak to their responses to a meeting on Tuesday 19th February. The MEC and the officials were warned that failure to respond to the questions truthfully will lead to a full investigation that will result in suspensions or even dismissals.
The Committee also made it clear that, should they find that public funds were misused, those involved will have to pay back state funds with immediate effect. Chairperson of the Committee Hlomane Chauke, said the MEC in her response should make sure that she fully responds to the allegations that she paid her friend and officials to go to the ANC Elective Conference with taxpayers' money.
Hon. Chauke said the Committee is not doing this because they like publicity but it is their responsibility to make sure state funds are not misused. "We are mandated by the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa and the laws that governs us, the Public Finance Management Act, to make sure that the MEC clarifies this issue.
"If we do not do this exercise the public purse will be under threat," said Hon. Chauke.
The department will meet the committee on Tuesday, 19 February 2013 at 10h00.