R7.8m spent on ghost magazines for libraries – DA KZN

Bradley Singh says these never materialised, address linked to company in question is a residential flat

R7.8 million spent on magazines for KZN libraries with nothing to show for it

7 April 2022

The Democratic Alliance (DA) can today reveal that despite KwaZulu-Natal’s (KZN) Department of Arts and Culture (DoAC) having spent a whopping R7.8million on magazine subscriptions during the past two years, not a single one has been delivered to libraries in the province.

The finding comes after KZN’s Arts and Culture portfolio committee conducted an oversight inspection of the KwaQondile Modular Library in Umkhanyakude towards the end of March. When the DA asked library officials when they last received magazines, the reply was March 2020. Further probing by the DA has established that the situation extends across the province.

The DA is not surprised by this discovery. This Department, under MEC Hlengiwe Mavimbela, is a disaster from beginning to end.

Of particular concern is that the R7.8million bill for magazines was paid on the last day of the previous financial year, 31 March 2022. This is fiscal dumping. While Treasury Regulations do provide for pre-payments, these should be avoided at all cost give that there is no guarantee that the goods will be delivered, as in this case.

The documents confirming the payments, which are in possession of the DA, also reveal that the address linked to the company in question is a residential flat and not a business able to manufacture and supply R7.8 million worth of magazines (view here). The same company has also recently supplied seeds to the province’s Department of Agriculture.

According to the Central Suppliers Database the company is also not a VAT vendor despite its annual turnover of more than R10 million. It is compulsory for a business to register for VAT if the total value of taxable supplies made in any 12 consecutive months exceeds R1 million. This means that the company is not tax compliant and should have been disqualified from the tender process

It is also astonishing to note that the DoAC opted for magazine subscription services given that our postal service has collapsed. Magazines and newspapers are available online at a fraction of the cost. A monthly premium subscription of less than R500 allows access to more than 7 000 magazines and newspapers, locally and internationally, which could also be downloaded to read at home. This is proof again that the DoAC’s priority is looting public funds rather than service delivery.

Our province and our country have become riddled with tender fraud, yet nothing is done about it. This must stop. The DA believes that there is more than enough evidence to warrant the arrest of certain DoAC individuals for ongoing fraud and corruption which has been overlooked time after time.

Given this, we will be opening criminal charges against the DoAC’s Head of Department (HOD), Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Acting Director of Library Services for this latest scandal. This will take place within the next week.

The DA will continue to exert pressure on law enforcement to ensure that these individuals are held accountable. We expect KZN Premier, Sihle Zikalala to sit up and take notice of what is happening right under his nose and to fire MEC Mavimbela without any further delay. She is not fit to run this Department.

Issued by Bradley Singh, DA KZN Spokesperson on Arts and Culture, 7 April 2022