Home | Sports | POLICE SIDE IN SPOTLIGHT AS LEOPARD BLAMED FOR GOVT ... EXCESS EXPENDITURE

POLICE SIDE IN SPOTLIGHT AS LEOPARD BLAMED FOR GOVT ... EXCESS EXPENDITURE

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LOBAMBA – Royal Leopard is accused of draining the taxpayer.

Resources that could be used to improve service delivery within the police service are said to be splashed on the team. The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) asked for a detailed report of how much the team was taking from the public purse. These sentiments were shared when the Royal Eswatini Police Service (REPS) was recently before the PAC.

Inappropriate

The Auditor General in the Financial Audit Report on the Consolidated Government Accounts of the Kingdom of Eswatini for the financial year ended March 31, 2023, reported that significant inappropriate excess expenditures amounting to E62 337 528.04 incurred by the Police Service in that financial year.This comprised an inappropriate excess expenditure on CTA vehicle charges worth E6 557 492.65 under the Traffic Section; inappropriate excess expenditure on personnel costs amounting to E55 774 628.20 under various responsibility centres; inappropriate excess expenditure on travel, transport and communication amounting to E4 379.90; and inappropriate excess expenditure on professional and special services amounting to E1 027.29 under the Hhohho General Police.

During the session, the members of the PAC raised concerns about the over-expenditure on CTA charges. The members of Parliament (MPs) said what puzzled them the most was that almost all police stations in the country have an acute shortage of motor vehicles, hence they failed to understand where the over-expenditure was coming from. The MPs said what was significantly noted was that a lot of resources were seen splashed towards running the police soccer team, Leopard. The PAC said the resources that were running the team were direct from the taxpayer and that was unfair to emaSwati because service delivery should be prioritised and the team should be run with its own resources not drain the taxpayers.

Resources

Dvokodvweni MP Sifiso Shabalala, asked which resources were used to run the Royal Leopard football team. “I can see the over expenditure of CTA charged and traffic because there are also complaints that the service does not have cars. Which cars are causing the over-expenditure because not all police stations have cars. We see Royal Leopard using the same resources that should be used to serve the nation. Is royal leopard using the fuel and resources that should be serving the nation, which has led to the expenditure?” asked the MP. He also asked if there were controls in place to ensure that the team was not draining the budget that should be used for service delivery.

The PAC Vice Chairperson and Nhlambeni MP, Manzi Zwane, said he was equally concerned about the taxpayer’s money that was splashed on running Royal Leopard. “We know about the team but we have a problem with the use of resources funded by the taxpayer and that drains the government purse. Royal Leopard shouldn’t use State resources, but use their own resources just like other teams in the Premier league of Eswatini (PLE). Hire buses, do not use the police buses because those are serviced by the taxpayer,” he said.

Zwane said the use of resources funded by the taxpayer has created enemies for the team especially people who were not able to get services from the police because of fuel transport unavailability, which was easily attributed to resources being allocated to the team rather than the public. The vice chairperson told the REPS Controlling Officer, Acting Commissioner General (NATCOM), Lydia Dlamini, that they were not attacking her as they also raised the same concerns with the Umbutfo Eswatini Defence Force (UEDF) and they would also raise it when His Majesty Correctional Services appear before the PAC.

Meet

In response, the controlling officer told the PAC that they would meet as a service and look at how the matter could be addressed. “We will relook at the matter as an office to avoid it not to use government resources,” she said. Dlamini added that inasmuch as they had few vehicles the expenditure was high because their vehicles work throughout the day used by different shifts.  “Their repair costs are too high because they do not rest. Garages charge us a lot,” she said.

The Acting NATCOM also stated that in the 2023 financial year, government granted a three per cent cost-of-living adjustment and one per cent once-off payment of their annual salary. There was also an issue that dated back to 2014 of salary restructuring of circular no.2 of 2014 that was not implemented for junior officers. Since the matter was shifted to salary review, they were given a four per cent cushion from Superintendent to constable. This led to the over-expenditure in personnel costs.

Dissatisfaction

After the response, Dvokodvweni MP registered his dissatisfaction with Dlamini’s response. He mentioned that Dlamini was responding as the concern was new. He said they needed a time frame in terms of addressing the issue. “Please give us a time frame for producing detailed resources of the state resources used by Leopard. I am disappointed with the way the controlling officer is addressing the issue as if it was new,” he said. The MP highlighted that during the unrest police vehicles and buses were targeted even during the soccer activities because people were angry seeing their taxes being used on football while police could not attend to crime scenes. Dlamini asked for a month to produce a detailed report of the football team’s spending to the PAC.

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