Auditor General denounces Covid-19 Task Force Team

Sharon Mathala
WRONG MOVE: Masupu not authorised to appoint Task Force members

The 14 member Presidential Task force personnel were appointed and employed illegally by President Mokgweetsi Masisi, if the Auditor General report is anything to go by.

Collectively, as of 31st August 2020, the task force team was paid close to P2 million, whilst the coordinator Dr Kereng Masupu is on a fixed-term contract of P 1, 217, 136.

“His Excellency the President appointed the Presidential task force members, however, the appointment letters did not specify the legal provisions upon which they were made,” Auditor General Pulane Letebele says in a recently released report.

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The Auditor General further cautions Government that there were two members of the task force team that were to be in kind support services but were somehow illegally paid by the Government.

“The payment of P 165 600 was irregular and thus a loss to the Government. The other payment under consideration would also result in loss to the Government should it be honoured,” the Auditor General said, further urging the Government to account for the payment.

In its response, however, Government has acknowledged some abnormalities in the appointments of the task force members.

“It is true that appointment letters of the Presidential task force members did not specify the legal provisions which they were made, hence noncompliance and the anomaly has been noted,” Government admitted.

However Government hides behind the state of emergency: “It should be further noted that since this is a state of emergency, even the legislation related thereto could be used to appoint officers. What is critical is the actual appointment of officers. Professionals especially scientists were appointed by His Excellency the President using his executive powers as provided at section 47 of the constitution.”

The Auditor General further punches holes in the task force team pointing out that one of the members was a foreign national who only happened to be in the country as a visitor, but was shockingly appointed by Masisi to the task force.

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The Auditor General questions this and says “further investigations revealed that one of the appointed task force team members was a foreign national who happened to be in the country as a visitor. The said member was offered a temporary appointment by the President. …efforts to obtain evidence for a work permit, professional profile and other related employment requirements were futile.”

The Auditor General further says this made it difficult to determine the appropriateness of the recruitment process that was followed to appoint the member on the Covid-19 task force team.

The Auditor General also warns the President in his report, of possible fraud. “Clarity in these entire issues is sought. It is recommended that procedures should be followed at all times and all the documentation be kept safe for reference and in order to reduce loopholes which could lead to fraud or corruption.”

In its defence Government responded: “Regarding the foreign national who was employed without work permit, it must be noted that the said consultant was appointed by the President using his executive powers and obviously he could appoint anyone who could help irrespective of his/her country of residence .”

Another irregularity noted by the Auditor General is that Masupu overstepped his boundaries by hiring other members of the task force team.

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Government admitted that it was wrong of Dr Masupu to do so. “The coordinator does not have authority to appoint members to the Presidential Task force.”

Speaking to the remuneration packages of the task force which ran into millions when advised to come up with proper structures for future pandemics with consistent remuneration systems, Government says this is not possible.

“The remuneration structures are possible in a normal situation, however during an emergency temporary structures are put in place and rates are negotiable, depending on the task at hand, nature and complexity of the tasks cannot be anticipated so a price cannot be predetermined,” Government responded.


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