According to DA rural development shadow minister Annette Steyn, the auditor-general’s reason for withholding an unqualified report was the department’s “failure to complete a full asset register of immoveable properties belonging to the national government under the custodianship of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform”.This hasn’t happened for the last three years, she added.
According to the auditor-general’s report, which hasn’t yet been made public by the department, the failure to complete a full asset report resulted in immoveable property registered in the name of other departments being registered in the asset register of the DRDLR. The auditor-general said the department also failed to register certain properties which were now state-owned in the name of the national government.
Steyn said the National Treasury noted the same failures last year and devised the National Vesting Master Plan, which tasked the department with completing the register of all immoveable property in the name of the state by 30 April 2010.
“It was critical that they do this because this is land that could be used for land redistribution, but they’ve failed again,” she added. “One wonders where the motivation to change the department’s performance will come from, because there’s no evidence of anyone being held to account for these failures.”
The auditor-general’s report also drew attention to the following serious anomalies:
R53,3 million in material losses were incurred as a result of fraudulent activities at three land reform projects in KwaZulu-Natal – Elands Jagt, Kuickvlei and Arcadia. In all, 21 investigations into corruption were completed for the financial year.Legal claims instituted against the department amounted to R566,2 million, and “no provision for any liability (interest and legal costs) that may result has been made in the financial statements.”Fruitless and wasteful expenditure of R3,3 million was incurred as a result of interest paid to suppliers and instances where normal procurement processes were not adhered to. – Sean Christie