Show us the money, Scopa tells North West govt

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Scopa North West chairperson Hlomane Chauke is seen in Brits on 20 August 2013. He was chairing public hearings into the management of the Bapo ba Mogale royalties account. Picture: Lenyaro Sello/eNCA.

BRITS - The Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) in the North West has taken the province’s finance department to task over hundreds of millions of rand that it cannot account for.

The money belongs to the Bapo ba Mogale community. It has a bank account set up for mining houses in their area to deposit royalties meant for community development.

The account is controlled by the provincial government due to a tribal dispute in the area.

Scopa is holding public hearings in Brits, North West, into what has happened to R300-million of the nearly R400-million that was in the community’s account.

From the end of March 2009, large amounts were paid out of the account, including almost R160-million in 2012.

"They must give us a detailed account on how the 200-million plus was spent. Detail. We want that information because they have that information," Scopa North West chairperson Hlomane Chauke said.

The department told the committee that it’s handling of the money is modelled on a bank system.

"We are like a bank – all the tribes have brought deposit into that bank account – so the bank cannot actually go and prepare the financial statement for the people who made the deposit," North West Accountant-General Geo Paul said.

The department was set to report back to the hearings today to give a detailed report on how the money has been spent. But the committee was not impressed when the department could not provide details.

"You get money and then you pay out that money and you don’t know and you don’t even care how that money is spent," Deputy Speaker in the North West Legislature Philemon Mapulane said.

The provincial department has now said it will find all relevant documentation to explain the money after the committee demanded a concrete report.

"As it relates to who got what and so on – it is a matter that these are documents that will obviously be found within traditional authorities of these traditional councils," North West Finance MEC Paul Sebegoe said.

The hearings have been adjourned until further notice to give the finance department time to compile a report.