DA slams R2.2m PPE spent at KZN library that 'does not exist'

05 July 2021 - 07:00 By gill gifford
The KZN arts & culture department is accused of spending R2.2m on personal protective equipment for the staff of a library that has not yet been built.
The KZN arts & culture department is accused of spending R2.2m on personal protective equipment for the staff of a library that has not yet been built.
Image: 123RF/Oksana Smyshliaeva

The KwaZulu-Natal arts and culture department is accused of spending R2.2m on personal protective equipment for the staff of a library that has not yet been built.

The allegation has been made by MPL Bradley Singh, the DA's spokesperson on arts and culture in the province, and a member of the portfolio committee.

Singh raised the matter in a parliamentary question on June 30, and has given KwaZulu-Natal arts and culture MEC Hlengiwe Mavimbela seven days to respond to allegations that the money was squandered on pandemic protection gear for a library that has not yet been built.

Singh, who said he had proof of the misspending, has asked Mavimbela to detail the amount of money spent on PPE and identify the person who authorised the deal relating to the Dukudu Library in Mtubatuba.

According to Singh, an amount of R32.1m was budgeted for the construction of the library, set to begin in March 2019 and end in March 2022 — though this deadline is expected to be delayed because of lockdown. So far R6.5m of the budget has been used.

“Most shocking though is the procurement of PPE to the value of more than R2m. This is for an, as yet, non-existent library and staff,” Singh stated.

When contacted for her response, Mavimbela declined to comment, stating that the matter has already been raised and Singh’s claims had been noted.

“However, since the matter is the focus of a question submitted to parliament, the department will be reporting on the matter through the legislature,” said her spokesperson, Phathisa Mfuyo.

Singh said: “I can tell you now they are not going to respond to my question in time. That’s why I gave them seven days. So round about June 8, if I don’t have my information, I am going to lay criminal charges against them.”

He is in possession of an internal management report dated March 30, in which the auditor concludes that R2,292,065 was spent on procuring 2,580 masks, 2,730 overalls, 306 sanitisers, 118 sanitising spray bottles and 520 gloves.

Singh said the shock finding was made after the provincial department of arts & culture failed to disclose all their financials during a recent portfolio committee meeting.

He added that the department had blamed community service delivery protests for bringing the construction of the Dukudu Library to a halt at an early stage.

“Our gripe is clear. Our province is struggling, and there are artists who are unable to perform because there is no money. Yet millions have been spent at a facility that does not exist. It’s time for the people involved to be held accountable,” he said.

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