PUBLIC Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has found that the purchase of a new official vehicle for KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Education Kwazi Mshengu was unlawful.
This comes after the KwaZulu-Natal office of the public protector conducted a year-long investigation into the use of taxpayers’ money to rent a car for the provincial education department.
The department bought the BMW X4 in December 2019 despite a one-year-old Mercedes-Benz GLE 350 being available.
Releasing her report on Monday, the Public Protector found that the purchasing of the new BMW was unjustified but has placed the blame with the KZN Education head of department (HOD), Enock Nzama.
“The purchasing of a new vehicle for the official use of MEC Mshengu was therefore not justified in terms of paragraph 2.9 the Guide. Under the circumstances, it is concluded that the approval by the HOD of the purchasing of the BMW X4 for the official use of MEC Mshengu was not in line with the provisions of the Guide and his responsibilities as the accounting officer of the Department in terms of section 38 of the Public Finance Management Act, 1999 (PFMA),” she said on Monday.
“It was therefore improper and amounts to maladministration. It also resulted in irregular and fruitless and wasteful expenditure, as contemplated by section 1 of the PFMA. The conduct of the HOD accordingly constitutes improper conduct as envisaged in the Constitution and maladministration in terms of the Public Protector Act.”
She said that Mshengu was advised by Nzama that a new car should be bought.
Mshengu also rented a car to use at the expense of the department despite an official vehicle being available.
Mkhwebane said that this amounted to maladministration and had resulted in fruitless and wasteful expenditure.
She has called for an investigation into the conduct of Nzama.
She also called for KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala to submit a copy of the Provincial Legislature.
She said in addition, the Provincial Treasury must take appropriate steps in terms of Regulations 4.1.3 and 4.1.4 of the Treasury Regulations to ensure that an investigation is conducted into the conduct of the HOD and that of the other officials of the department involved in the purchasing of a new vehicle for the official use of MEC Mshengu as referred to in this report.
“This must happen within 60 days from the date of this report,” she said.