Damning report exposes corruption at Works Ministry
A fraud triangle in which officials, alleged to be motivated by greed, feelings of entitlement – and aided by weak internal controls – has been thriving unabated for two and half years at the Ministry of Works and Transport’s, Directorate of Works Maintenance, in the Otjizondjupa region and //Karas Region.
This despite the Permanent Secretary Peter Mwatile being alerted of this through a report compiled two years ago.
Documentation at hand confirms that recommendations of a damning report that emanated from an internal audit which was commissioned in 2011 are only getting the required attention now. This, despite the report having been approved by then Permanent Secretary at the line ministry, George Simataa, after which he issued directives for the cases to be investigated by the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC).
The Villager is in possession of an internal audit report of the directorate, which was produced in September 2011, with the aim to inform then Permanent Secretary, George Simataa of the rampant corruption at the Otjozondupa’s Department of Works Maintenance – as decentralised to the Otjizondjupa Regional Council.
Upon approval of the report in 2011 Simataa noted that; "The findings of the audit as contained on page 7 of the report are scary. The recommendations of the audit on pages 9 to 10 (should) be implemented with immediate effect by charging those involved with misconduct. The cases should also be reported by HR (human resources) to the ACC for possible criminal charges to be investigated."
Current PS at that ministry, Peter Mwatile confirmed the authenticity of the report to The Villager this week, but declined to comment further on the matter, nor shedding light on why those who reaped off the ministry were not yet prosecuted two years on. He maintained that it is internal and ‘not for public consumption.’
"How did you get hold of that report? That document is confidential. You have to understand that some things are personal even if government is involved," he said.
But on a comment that Mwatile made on the report for the attention of the Deputy Director for Human Resources on the 1 April 2014, Mwatile noted that; "I have noted the attached report and taken the content, findings and recommendation very seriously. I have also read the comments and approve thereof by my predecessors. I fully endorse and direct that they should be implemented with immediate effect."
According to the date on the cover letter, the said audit report was forwarded to Mwatile on 31 March 2014. The cover letter is titled; Internal Audit Report: ‘Directorate of Maintenance, as second to Otjizondjupa Regional Council, for the financial year 2012/2013, as requested by the Permanent Secretary.’
The report opened a can of worms unveiling bad practices at the Otjiwarongo, Grootfontein, Tsumkwe, Okakarara, Kalkfeld and Otavi sub-offices.
At Otjiwarongo Regional Office the audit established that a certain Anton Gerrit Cloete, a Control Work Inspector signs cheques for the son’s company registered as WEC Construction as well as another company registered as under his sister’s name as Verns Construction. It was further established that Cloete who presided over the economising committee also uses employees of the directorate to private work for the aforementioned companies. Cloete was further fingered for allegedly hiring vehicles from a local car hire company for November and December 2010 without and approved submission, despite the Government Garage in Otjiwarongo being adjacent to their workstation.
At the same office a Senior Artisan Foreman Thaddeus Tjikuru signs cheques for her daughters sole business Imelda Renovation and Builders after which he presents the cheques to the bank.
It has also recorded that the Otjiwarongo regional council paid an amount of N$15 825.18 for work that was not done. The work according to the damning report was supposed to be done at Okamatapati Combined School and the beneficially close corporation was Otjiwa Construction, which belongs to Grieta Dirgaardt, who happens to be the wife to a Goerge Dirgaardt. George is a civil work inspector at the Khomas Regional Office, and he also sign some purchase orders and claim forms as a supplier.
Also named as a culprit by the report is a Beatus Eddy Oreri Kasete who allegedly signed cheques to the Ozondoto Construction CC, a company in which according to the report he has a stake in.
The audit further exposed administrative blunders at the Otjiwarongo Regional Office. It established that there was no filling system in place during the time of the review. The cheque auxiliary register kept by the regional office does not contain important information, for instance the name of the person who collected the cheque. It also emerged that the Otjozondjupa Regional Office economising committee’s minute contents does not contain what was discussed in the meeting, but only a list of payments to be made.
At the Grootfontein Sub-Office the audit team, according to the report that procurement, delivery, custody and loaning of diesel and other procurement products, for vehicles was subject to abuse. The audit however expressed satisfaction with the administration of procurement and economising committee discussion.
The same however cannot be said for the Tsumkwe sub-office which was found in disarray with no stock auxiliary records or procedures, at the time of the review. It also established, according to the report, that an unnamed work representative at the office loaned diesel to other institutions without approval from the permanent secretary.
In Okakarara it was established, at the time of the report, that a certain retired public servant, who was formerly employed by the Ministry of Safety and Security was still occupying a government house, despite having retired about a year ago and at the Kalkfeld settlement, according to the audit, repair work that was supposed to be done on a staff house was left incomplete despite having been paid for.
Also on the subject of dwellings, it emerged that in Otavi, work that was done on the police barracks did not meet the minimum acceptable standards, despite having guzzled a whopping N$67 895.67 of state funds.
In the damning report the audit team noted that the work principle ethics of Cloete, Tjikuru and Hoeab and Dirgaardt constituted conflicts of interest and they should be subjected to the Public Service Act 13 of 1995 with particular reference to sections that deal with misconduct, suspension and disciplinary measures.
It also recommended that Cloete, Tjikuru should only be allowed cheques if they disclose their interest as required by law and that Cloete should withdraw the administrative correspondences directed towards the regional office at Otjiwarongo and the Grootfontein sub-office with regards to the Tsumkwe sub-office.
"Those correspondences were to stifle communications from subordinates, and as results enable a dishonest management with the intention to misrepresent results," the report reads.
It recommended that Louw should be discouraged from hiring diesel and other petroleum products to other institutions without an authorisation from the PS’s office as well as that he should be subjected to disciplinary measures.
The report audit team further reported that, ‘what is happening at Otjizondjupa Regional Council, department of works is self-dealing, administration beyond conflicts of interest and corruption.’
They further maintained that the regional council is well aware of Kasete’s dealing with the delegated function.
"As a result a correspondence be send to the Ministry of Local, Regional Government and Housing and Rural Development and above all this activities be reported to the Anti Corruption Commission for investigation and prosecution,"
Unclear employment systems
Documentation in The Villager’s possession also show that the Ministry of Works is also embroiled in another mess after the appointment of a Deputy Director Grade 4 went sour. According to documentation the winning candidate is a certain Joseph Linekela who is already employed as the Chief Internal Auditor in the ministry. The candidate who came second was Alfons Witbean currently employed by the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration.
However the bone of contention is that documentation show that Linekela has been sidelined. The argument has also since spilled over to the Public Service Commission for remedy.
A letter written from the appointing authority in the ministry told Linekela in no uncertain terms that, "Note should be take that this ministry recommends the second high scorer, Witbean for the post of Deputy Director Grade 4. The reason for such consideration being the position of centralised support services has been previously managed by Oshiwambo speaking tribe and has encountered numerous tribal problems thus a non Oshiwambo tribe is being considered in order to solve such problems."