The newly elected Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa), Mr Mkhuleko Hlengwa, has emphasised the need to unravel the web of corruption and state capture. Mr Hlengwa said Scopa as a committee needs to inspire confidence in its work so that South Africans can believe that things will get better. “Consequence management needs to be at the heart of what we do. It is only when we effect consequence management as a deterrent that we will begin to make headway,” said Mr Hlengwa.

He also stressed the importance of ensuring that people account for every rand and cent that has been spent. “We are not at war with individuals but we are at war with corruption, fraud, maladministration and the failure to comply with the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) and National Treasury regulations,” he said.

Forging partnerships with other stakeholders such as law enforcement agencies and other parliamentary parties are among the other things that Mr Hlengwa said the committee will have to do. “I am confident that we will be able to do this task across political lines. We must also appreciate the prevailing democratic tradition that Scopa should be chaired by the opposition,” said Mr Hlengwa.

Mr Hlengwa also thanked the various members of the committee for the support they pledged in his leadership and working together in the interest of South Africans. “Thank you for the trust and confidence that you have placed in me in this committee to be the first among equals. I believe in team work and I believe that we are in this together and that we are forced by circumstances to be united in the face of the many prevailing challenges in this country, in so far as financial management is concerned,” he said.

Mr Mervyn Dirks is the one who nominated Mr Mkhuleko Hlengwa, stating that the reason for the nomination is because Mr Hlengwa is credible and upright, and he will be able to hold the executive to account and will also give leadership to the committee. Ms Beauty Zibula seconded the nomination of Mr Hlengwa, stating that his age also served as a positive trait.

Mr Mogamad Hendricks also congratulated Mr Hlengwa. “In my response during the election of the President and during the Chief Whips’ Forum, we heard how Parliament has all the checks and balances to ensure good financial governance and management. I put the question to the presenters that if you have all the structures in place, why do we have the Zondo Commission of Inquiry? I hope that the sixth Parliament, after two to four years, will not need another Zondo Commission of Inquiry,” he said.

Mr Alf Lees also said he looked forward to working with Mr Hlengwa as part of the Scopa team. “A huge responsibility rests on your shoulders. We will support you all the way, provided we do the job that we have been elected to do. We have to make this committee do the work that the Constitution demands of it,” said Mr Lees.

Another member of the committee, Ms Thandiswa Marawu, said she does not doubt the capacity that Mr Hlengwa has. “We commit ourselves to working together with you. We will support you knowing the financial crises that different departments and state-owned enterprises are experiencing. We do not doubt your ability of taking the different departments out of the mess they are in”, she said.

Mr Sakhumzi Somyo said that the responsibility is enormous. “We will always be supportive on the role of your leadership and be guided all the time by the discussions and debates. We are at your disposal in terms of marshalling that leadership. You should cut your own space. Leaders pass or fail by wanting to be others,” he said.

By Faith Ndenze
2 July 2019