THE controversial former head of the Mpumalanga public works department, Priscilla Nkwinika, has been implicated in another scandal.

This after her department incurred irregular expenditure of nearly R10million.

The select committee on public accounts in Nelspruit yesterday grilled officials over the irregular expenditure of R9,919million while Nkwinika was still head.

The current head, Mathew Mohlasedi, told the committee that the expenditure had been incurred as a result of the department exceeding the compensation on employees budget for the 2008-09 financial year.

Mohlasedi said his department had informed the treasury about the projected over-expenditure on compensation of employees, but their request for additional funds had not been approved during budgetary adjustments.

"The improvement of the condition of services exceeded our compensation budget and we anticipated over-expenditure as the increment was not within the department's appropriated budget," Mohlasedi said.

He said his department had budgeted for a 7percent increase, while the salary negotiations agreed on 10,5percent, and that the variance of 3,5percent was not within the department's budget.

"The anticipated over-expenditure was also projected in the report submitted to treasury," he said.

He said the only way to avoid this irregular expenditure was not to pay their employees.

But Scopa members were not satisfied with this explanation, describing it as "nonsense".

Scopa member Candith Mashego-Dlamini said it was clear that the department had under-budgeted on personnel and failed to implement the cabinet's decision.

Scopa chairperson Fish Mahlalela said: "It's clear that Nkwinika, who was the accounting officer at the time, slept on the job and there must be consequences for that."

Another committee member, Anthony Benadie, said: "It's apparent the department has violated a cabinet decision and Scopa must consider using its power to hold Nkwinika to account.

"This includes laying charges against her," he said.

Nkwinika rose to infamy when she allegedly awarded multi-million rand contracts to unqualified companies, including one owned by Premier David Mabuza's ex-wife, Ruth Funi Silinda.

She was suspended following a Sowetan exposé.