NEWS & ANALYSIS

Dept rejects DA’s call to place it under administration – DARD KZN

Says it is committed to implementing a turnaround strategy

The KZN Department of Agriculture and Rural Development commits to implement the turnaround plan to address the finding by the AG

21 February 2020

The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development condemns in strongest terms, the statement by DA calling on the KZN Premier, Mr Sihle Zikalala, to put the department under administration as devoid of truth and with malicious intentions.

DA’s spokesperson for agriculture and rural development, Mr. Chris Pappas, requested this following the alleged failure of the department to deal with a plethora of issues raised by the auditor-general.

The Department would like to put on record that its presentation at the last SCOPA meeting coincided with the seating of cabinet sub-committee which led to the MEC not being able to attend hence, the newly appointed HOD attended the SCOPA meeting.

The Department was expected to report on matters raised by the committee in its October meeting, which took place prior to the appointment of the HOD. Due to this, the MEC and Chairperson of SCOPA have agreed to give the new HOD and his team an opportunity to improve the responses and submit in the next meeting.

The department highlighted at the meeting that a turn-around plan to address the AG findings has been developed and approved by Treasury.

The Department is also working with Treasury to improve internal controls. The department will ensure that all senior managers undergo security clearance and all qualifications verified. Any suspicious or known corrupt activities shall be reported to the police and relevant authorities, mainly the Provincial Treasury whistle blower section.

Since the appointment of MEC, Bongiwe Sithole-Moloi, the department has appointed three new executive members, a new Chief Financial Officer, an acting’s DDG for Corporate Services and a Head of Department. The new Head of Department has an excellent record on good governance and a turnaround strategist which the DA acknowledged in his appointment. The department is currently strengthening in the following areas, internal controls, risk management and audit capabilities which were next to none existent in the department when she took over as the MEC.

The main major contributor towards material under expenditure by the department has been challenges in planning. The team has developed a multi-year procurement plan linked out strategic objectives. The department has advertised more than 40 new posts towards the end of 2019 and an additional 60 to be advertised before the financial year end, this would ensure additional capacity in the department.

The department reports progress of its turnaround plan directly to the Portfolio Committee, Premier and legislature. The department has recently launched a number of initiatives, Planting season, Youth in Agriculture roadshows, engagements with various stakeholders. The department has already spent two-third of its departmental budget towards supporting emerging and subsistence farmers.

The department is in a process to improve its fleet management system, the smart vehicle system would assist the department to monitor the use and movement of departmental vehicles at all times. We would like to appeal to the members of the public to assist the department to report any information with regards to the misuse of departmental assets by our staff.

The department is poised to contribute significantly towards an active and vibrant agricultural province, which we seek to achieve a double digit growth in the sector.

Issued by Mack Makhathini on behalf of KZN Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, 21 February 2020