The reluctance by Citizen Entrepreneurship Development Agency (CEDA) to submit its forensic audit report and financial statements before the parliamentary committee for the second consecutive session has been described as undermining of Parliament by the agency.
CEDA ‘s forensic audit report has been a burning topic since its completion seven years back- covered with confidentiality, is sparking fears that there is more contained in the audit than it looks. Completed in January 2012, there is still no light shed on the details of the forensic audit report seven years down the line.
The then Minister of Trade, Commerce and Industry Dorcas Makgato, said at the time that the report will not be made public due to its strict secrecy in nature. Notwithstanding the promise to avail the report to Parliament, CEDA has reneged on the commitment and therefore lawmakers remain clueless about the much anticipated audit report.
Members of Parliament who form the Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Bodies and State Enterprises (PCSB&SE), on Friday sent back CEDA executives who appeared before the committee without the audit report. CEDA Chief Financial Officer, Tiny Ralefala went through a baptism of fire from the highly disappointed committee members owing to failure to honour the oversight committee instructions.
MPs said the reluctance by the agency to submit the audited financial report before the committee since last year leaves a lot to be desired and raises suspicions about what it contains.PCSB&SE interim chairman Pius Mokgware who is also MP for Gabane-Mmankgodi said CEDA failed to submit the report at their last appearance in November 2018, promising to submit report this time around. “I am failing to understand what is so secret about this forensic audit report. We want that report and you keep failing to furnish this committee with the report which is really being disrespectful now," said a furious Mokgware.
He also expressed dissatisfaction over the continuous missing of sessions by CEDA CEO Thabo Thamane as being disrespectful to Parliament, hence proposing stern action against him.“Tell your CEO that his actions will force us to be hard on him because no one is bigger than Parliament. We want him to appear before this Parliament committee early next week with the audit report and financial statements," Mokgware ordered.
Supporting Mokgware was MP Mephato Reatile who compolained that CEDA need to be brought to order for failing to submit the reports, indicating that the state agency executives have lied under oath. According to Reatile, it raises eyebrows for CEDA to have taken four years without submitting the audited financial results to the committee saying something is wrong. “CEDA lied under oath to this committee for a long time. We need to put our foot down because they are now not cooperative at all. Maybe we should summon the Ministry of Trade Permanent Secretary as well," charged an anxious Reatile.
CEDA representative Ralefala said CEO could not turn up to the committee because he was outside the country attending conference in London although he was aware of the schedule. She revealed that she is not in the right position to talk to the forensic audit report saying that the CEO has been on it together with the minister, pleading with the committee to give them time over the financial reports. “We had encountered some challenges that have delayed us to submit the report. However, we came up with strategies to ensure that we speed up the process in order to honour the committee’s orders,” she added.