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Ministry responds to DA's propaganda

25 April 2022

Over the weekend, the Democratic Alliance issued a statement regarding accommodation and catering expenditure by various government departments. It refers to the expenditure as “partying on taxpayer money.”

The statement refers to “Ronald Lamola’s department of justice and correctional services”. 

Firstly, there is no such department.  The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DOJCD) and the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) are two completely separate departments, each with their own budget vote and own accounting officer. The Minister of Justice and Correctional Services accounts to Parliament for the budgets and expenditure of the DOJCD, the DCS and the Office of the Chief Justice (OCJ). One would have expected the DA to know this.

Secondly, in what can only be characterized as a crude attempt to create a political frenzy, the statement characterizes the approximately 18 000 civil servants in the DOJCD as “ANC cadres”. This is conveniently done to ascribe the expenditure incurred in the course of performing functions as a spending spree. This, in turn, is used as a propaganda tool to portray the government of the day in a manner which suits a particular political agenda.

In the case of the DOJCD, the expenditure incurred also covers magistrates’ costs – is the DA referring to independent judicial officers as cadres?

Financial prescripts relating to catering expenditure define it as expenditure incurred on individuals employed or contracted to the department or individuals outside the employ of the department, in connection with the activities of a department, or division within a department, that directly relates to the achievement of its objectives.

Entertainment expenditure is expenditure incurred by members of the Senior Management Service (SMS) as well as Ministers, Deputy Ministers and their office bearers in performance of their duties. Accommodation expenditure relates to reasonable actual accommodation costs where an employee must take an official journey.

In other words, all these types of expenditure relate to official duties in line with departmental activities and objectives.

Surely, if the DA wanted to be logical, it would be clear that for a Department of this size, which has regional offices across the country, a national office and is responsible for the administration of justice and the provision of justice services at over 700 court houses and justice service points across the country, the incurring of expenditure for accommodation for officials and magistrates who travel for work related purposes would be justifiable.

The DOJCD went to great lengths to ensure that our courts remained open during even the most stringent levels of the Covid lockdown. How does the DA think this would have been possible without incurring costs? To portray this as “partying” is politically opportunistic.
By the same token, had the DOJCD underspent on its budget, it would surely be accused by the DA of not performing its functions.

Thirdly, the statement by the DA insinuates that this expenditure, which by and large, forms part of the operational expenditure of the DOJCD, could have been directed to the National Prosecuting Authority. This is a clear demonstration that the DA is ignorant of efforts Minister Lamola has made to capacitate the NPA and ignores the fact that the NPA itself also needs to incur travel and accommodation expenses in the execution of its own work.

We welcome any and all attempts to conduct parliamentary oversight over the Executive. It can only make our constitutional democracy better. But such information must not be used to manipulate citizens or public sentiment. Such information must be used to enlighten citizens, so that information must be correct and put into context,” said Minister Lamola.

“This is why we have the Office of the Auditor-General and bodies such as the Select Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) who scrutinise departmental expenditure. Where such expenditure cannot be explained or is found to be fruitless and wasteful, the necessary consequence management and disciplinary processes are followed.”

Click here to view the Parliamentary Question with the full response from the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.

ISSUED BY THE MINISTRY OF JUSTICE AND CORRECTIONAL SERVICES

Mr. Chrispin Phiri
Spokesperson: Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services
Chrispin Phiri
Contact: +27(0) 81 781 2261