Offices fail to account for all funds....
Apr 10, 2011
The ANC is struggling to account for R1.5-million in petty cash payments and outreach funds at its constituency offices around the country.
According to a report presented at its caucus meeting last month, more than R1.3-million in outreach funds and R193000 in petty cash could not be accounted for.
The ruling party has now warned its MPs that failure to account properly for constituency funds could lead to parliament withholding them.
Parliament funds constituency offices through political parties and the parties must account to the national legislature for every cent transferred.
Outreach funds are used to put MPs in contact with the communities they represent.
A brief financial report recently presented to MPs by ANC chief whip Mathole Motshekga shows that R2.8-million was disbursed to ANC constituency offices around the country for this purpose.
But, by February, constituency offices could account for only R1.5-million.
The party's constituency offices in Eastern Cape received the largest share of the allocation, the Free State got the smallest.
ANC constituency offices were also unable to account for R193000 of R353000 claimed as petty cash payments.
Constituency offices in Western Cape and Eastern Cape spent most petty cash; offices in Gauteng did not claim any petty cash expenses.
Motshekga urged MPs to ensure that their constituency offices were able to account for the expenditure by the end of the 2010-2011 financial year.
He warned of the consequences of failing to account for funds derived from parliament: "We are currently conducting our financial year-end audit and failure to account for our expenses will result in a qualified audit, which would jeopardise our eligibility to receive funds from parliament," he said.
ANC caucus spokesman Moloto Mothapo played down Motshekga's warning, saying the chief whip was merely encouraging MPs to remain vigilant with regular accounting for allocated constituency funds.
"There was absolutely no suggestion or suspicion of laxity in the administration of constituency funds, and none of the MPs was blamed," he said.
Parliament places stringent conditions on how constituency allowances are spent.
It exercised its powers against COPE after it failed to account satisfactorily for millions in constituency allowances.
This was exacerbated by revelations that COPE had diverted about R2-million from its constituency allowance to pay for an aborted elective conference.
Parties also receive an allowance to run their administration in parliament.
Parliamentary spokesman Luzuko Jacobs said the national legislature kept a close watch on how parties spent their constituency allocations and would question them about their spending if it was thought that expenditure was irregular.
"If parliament has difficulties with any aspect of the financial statements it receives, it alerts the political party concerned and asks for explanations," said Jacobs.
Opposition parties contacted by The Times said their financial records in respect of the constituency allocations they had received were in order.
But they refused to give The Times access to their books.