THE public watchdog in Mpumalanga has expressed concern after more than R400000 of taxpayers' cash was wasted "due to poor planning" on the opening of the Samora Machel Museum last year.
Now the province's standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) wants culture and recreation department head Sindi Mjwara to recover the money it says she used as unauthorised expenditure.
"We have noted with serious concern that the department incurred unauthorised expenditure to the amount of R429666 due to poor planning for the opening of the museum," Scopa chairperson Fish Mahlalela said.
Attempting to justify the loss, the department said that when the museum in Mbuzini was opened, the amphitheatre had not been completed - and it had to alter the contract specifications to include a marquee tent, cushions, umbrellas, daylight screens and security services.
But the department, says Scopa, sourced these services without following proper procedure.
In additional information disclosed by the department to Scopa, the public watchdog said it had noticed an "unusual" deal made between the department and service provider Pro Africa Communications.
"The department and Pro Africa agreed to a 50-50 settlement of the LED big screens and the invoice submitted by Pro Africa did not include security services," Mahlalela said.
He said other suspiciously procured items included: LED screens - R74778; Vito - R37288; Fans - R36000; photographic exhibition - R12000; presidential visit catering - R7000; catering for Graça Machel visit - R6000; refreshments for for labourers - R1600; local labour - R6300; additional carpets R9500; Marimba Band - R10994; musician Mzwakhe Mbuli R23302; Nkomazi Dance Group R5000; Shungube - R2000; Ray Phiri Art Institute transport - R 5040.
Mahlalela said his committee failed to understand why a meeting on February 22 - between the department and Pro Africa Communications - had to discuss and arrive at an agreement to pay 50-50 for the LED screens.
"We expect Sindi Mjwara, as the accounting officer, to hold officials accountable for incurring unauthorised expenditures - or else it will recovered from her," he said.