Marvin Charles, News24 | March 16, 2021
SANParks has defended itself after the Auditor-General (AG) flagged it for irregular expenditure to the tune of R202 million in the 2019/20 financial year.
But, according to SANParks, 97% of the amount consists of previously unreported expenditure for two legacy contracts.
SANParks head of communications Reynold Thakhuli told News24 that it was concerned.
“Irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure is a matter of serious concern for the SANParks board and management. In line with this, SANParks prioritises measures to prevent irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure and, where it is discovered, both addresses and rectifies it, including through consequence management where the outcome of investigations indicate that this is required.”
According to Thakhuli, the two legacy contracts are an IT service contract and a rhino poaching project funded by the Nature Conservation Trust.
“With regard to the latter, two independent investigations were conducted – one spearheaded by SANParks and the other by National Treasury. Both concluded that no evidence exists that any SANParks official acted with malicious intent in the incurring of the expenditure. The IT contract on the other hand, is irregular expenditure that occurred as a result of non-compliant contract expansion and renewal by officials no longer in the employ of SANParks,
“The balance of the irregular expenditure, with the value of R3 672 741.57, consists of a total of 10 transactions,” he said.
The AG said it was unable to obtain sufficient appropriate audit evidence that disciplinary steps were taken against officials who had incurred irregular expenditure.
According to the entity’s financial report, the total revenue for the year was R3.16bn or 5% more than in the previous financial year. R2.4bn (76%) was generated from exchange transactions, 5% more than in the 2018/2019 financial year.
The AG has raised concerns about SANParks’ ability to function in the future.
“The annual financial statements have been prepared, based on the expectation that the entity will continue to operate as a going concern for at least the next 12 months. The Covid-19 pandemic has materially and adversely affected the tourism sector as the national lockdown measures implemented by government resulted in the closure of all national parks and tourism businesses operating within national parks.”
It said that, with the uncertain effects of Covid-19 beyond 2020/21, SANParks might face further deficits.