No accurate records for R250m loans Mega dished out
Nov 18 2011 12:41PM

Cobus Coetzee

The Mpumalanga provincial legislature has lambasted a government parastatal for dishing out loans worth more than R250m without keeping proper records over several years.

The portfolio committee on economic development, environment and tourism this week asked the Mpumalanga Economic Growth Agency (Mega) to explain more than R268m in loans that the auditor-general found had not been properly recorded.

“You must account for this money and give a comprehensive report. It’s taxpayers’ money, not just spaza shop money,” said committee member Victor Windvoël.

Mega was tasked with bringing new investment into the province and providing financial and mentoring support to emerging businesses with local links.

The AG found that Mega had budgeted to provide R12m in finance to businesses during the 2010-11 financial year but ended up giving away R35.9m in loans.

It was also found that only 67 of the planned 300 businesses were helped with funding. Mega executive manager Anton Scheepers told the legislature that “all the loans were recorded on different spreadsheets but could not be reconciled”.

The parastatal’s chief financial officer, Elvis Rabohale, said things were so bad at Mega that “one official allegedly paid a loan into their own bank account”.

“We have laid criminal charges and disciplinary action is being undertaken,” said Rabohale.

Committee chairperson Refilwe Mahlobogoane asked Mega to submit a report detailing all criminal charges brought against its employees.

The deadline for the report is Friday.

According to the AG’s 2010-11 report, Mega has cost the taxpayer R5m for failing to pay its taxes on time.

The parastatal had also incurred R23m in fruitless and wasteful expenditure after failing to pay the Development Bank of Southern Africa on time.

Members of the provincial legislature and the board of Mega were shocked to find out that the parastatal was paying salaries to two acting chief executive officers, one of whom had been suspended. The current acting chief is Rabeng Tshukudu while the suspended chief is Gijimani Dladla.

“I wasn’t even aware we were paying Dladla,” said interim Mega board chairperson Jerry Vilakazi.

Vilakazi promised that the interim board would turn Mega around.

Mahlobogoane encouraged the interim board to effect positive changes as soon as possible.

In the past financial year, Mega spent R83m to pay the salaries of its 234 employees. – AENS

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