Home | Sports | ARMY SIDE IN SPOTLIGHT FOLLOWING CLAIMS THAT: ARMY CARS USED FOR SOCCER GAMES

ARMY SIDE IN SPOTLIGHT FOLLOWING CLAIMS THAT: ARMY CARS USED FOR SOCCER GAMES

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LOBAMBA – The PAC has asked the Ministry of Defence and Security to stop using government cars for football games.

Also, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has asked for evidence that the money used to fuel the cars does not come from the government purse. This happened yesterday during the appearance of the ministry before the PAC, which is chaired by Member of Parliament (MP) Madala Mhlanga.

Even though the PAC members did not name a team, it is a fact that the Premier League outfit, Young Buffaloes, have close relations with the army. The PAC members argued that the ministry was now and again flagged for over-expenditure caused by transport costs and that this was due to the cars being used for private commitments, including transporting players belonging to a soccer team that falls under it.

“I am concerned that you find army cars at personal and private events. These cars, if one can investigate, are always fuelled at the Central Transport Administration (CTA) which shows that there are no proper controls at the ministry,” submitted Somntongo Member of Parliament (MP) Sandile Nxumalo.

Also, raising the issue was Deputy Chairperson of the PAC in Nhlambeni MP Manzi Zwane, who said the same concern had been raised by emaSwati on different platforms. “The cars do personal errands. We see them every day and this makes me wonder if there is anyone who holds the position of transport manager in the ministry,” said Zwane.

The chairperson of the PAC (Mhlanga) asked the ministry to provide answers to reports that the soccer team that was under its ownership had its players provided with food and driven to games through the use of the government budget.

Acting Principal Secretary Sanele Malambe tried to explain saying there was never a time when the ministry filled up cars for soccer games. In particular, he informed the PAC that there was a separate account for the administration of the soccer team.

Agitate

His response seemed to agitate the PAC members and they bombarded him with more questions with Mhlanga chipping in to say, “I am a soccer fan. I see soldiers at soccer stadiums. I would advise that you deal with this issue. It would be wrong of me not to talk about it. Even if the fuel does not come from government, it is still wrong to use the cars for soccer games. It is our duty to protect government funds”.

MP Zwane also submitted a follow-up question asking where exactly the separate account came from. Meanwhile, Ngwempisi MP Bishop Bhekibandla Vilakati submitted that the issue of a separate account was confusing.
Vilakati asked to know if it was not made up of funds that came from the budget approved by Parliament for the ministry.

“I would like to know if the AG did find this separate account when conducting his audit,” submitted Vilakati.
Also submitting was Dvokodvweni MP Sifiso Shabalala who said, “The issue we are talking about is not a secret. We all know it and the Defence is aware of that. If there is a separate account, different transport should be used, not the ones that belong to government. We see the rented army vehicles at soccer games and this is not good. It needs to stop”.

The acting PS eventually stated that there were occasions where the army cars were spotted at events but that this was necessitated by the fact that there had been security concerns in the country in recent months. He stated that they were going to try and monitor the use of the vehicles and the overall budget of the ministry to avoid issues of over-expenditure.

Unappropriated

It should be noted that in the AG’s report for the financial year ended March 31, 2023, Matsebula said he reported that there were significant unappropriated over-expenditures on recurrent votes amounting to E124 734 061.52.
This comprised an over-expenditure on CTA vehicle charges amounting to E11 079 045.68, and an over-expenditure on personnel costs amounting to E113 655 015.84 under various responsibility centres.

The AG cited Section 34(1) of the Public Finance Management Act (2017) which states that ‘excess expenditure’ means unauthorised expenditure.  Further, section 34(7) states that any excess or any amount expended but not appropriated and which is not allowed under this section shall be treated as a loss of public moneys and dealt with in accordance with Part VII of the Act.

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