Minister Gungubele deliberately hampering Scopa mandate

Issued by Benedicta van Minnen MP – DA Member of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts
16 Nov 2022 in News

Please find attached soundbite by Benedicta van Minnen MP

Today, the Scopa sitting was again overshadowed by the ongoing conflict between Scopa and the State Security Agency (SSA), which continues refusing to respond to information requests.

Scopa holds a mandate to perform oversight of the audited financial statements, comment on the audit reports of organs of state and request information that is relevant to that mandate, not contravening the requirement of confidentiality.

Scopa has been focusing, during this Parliament, on the failings of SOE’s – particularly Eskom, Prasa and SANRAL, and the rolling damage caused to the economy. Part of this oversight is following up on the Cabinet decision from 2014 pertaining to the need to screen and vet executives at these SOEs.

The wheels of SOEs are oiled with public money and it is entirely reasonable to monitor progress in the vetting of the executives concerned, particularly given the amount of malfeasance and corruption highlighted in reports from the SIU and Hawks.

The SSA and the Minister were therefore invited to meet with Scopa on Wednesday, the 9th of November 2022, and brief the committee on progress made with this process. The committee was however informed at the eleventh hour that the SSA, would brief the Standing Committee on Intelligence in a closed meeting instead and accordingly refused to appear at Scopa.

This is totally unacceptable, and Scopa has received two legal opinions  this year, including one today, stating that while the accountability for financial management of the SSA may reside with the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence (JSCI), enabling reporting to both houses of Parliament, this is however not an exclusive mandate and Scopa may request documents pursuant to their oversight in specific areas.

Scopa is thus empowered by law to request an update on the vetting of employees of SOE’s, and it is critical to its mandate to do so.

For the Minister to argue that giving such an update is part of the sole accountability to the JSCI is leading to a situation where the Minister is deliberately hindering Scopa from performing on its mandate.

This deliberate infringement of Section 56 of the National Constitution which gives the power to the National Assembly and its committees to call for information or for parties to appear before it or its committees should be condemned in the strongest terms. I shall be raising questions to the Minister at the soonest possible opportunity about his thwarting of the mandate of Scopa.