top officials in r100m scam

TOP officials in the Mpumalanga agriculture department have squandered more than R100million earmarked to assist emerging farmers and boost food production in the province.

Five senior managers from the department of agriculture have been implicated in the multi-million rand fraud.

Forensic investigators Gobodo Forensic and Investigative Accounting has recommended that disciplinary action be taken against the five.

The probe has established that on numerous occasions, the officials had connived with service providers to make payments for work not done.

Gobodo was commissioned by premier David Mabuza to look into the affairs of the Mpumalanga Agricultural Development Corporation, a parastatal attached to the department of agriculture.

The investigators have now uncovered the reason behind the failure of many agricultural projects in the province.

Top officials paid the corporation and some service providers millions of rands without following standard procedures.

The Gobodo Report, in part, reads: "... we also found 34 instances accounting for more than R43million where MADC claimed payment from the department before they had effected payment to the service provider.

"In terms of procedure, MADC was to first pay the service provider and then claim the payment from the department."

The investigators also found that more than R6million which the department paid to the corporation could not be matched to the invoice.

The corporation was established through provincial legislation in 1999, with a mandate to promote sustainable agricultural empowerment, development and entrepreneurship of previously disadvantaged individuals and communities.