Publication: The Mercury Issued: Date: 2000-11-20 Reporter: Editor: Elijah Mhlanga

Unaccountable State Officials may be Subpoenaed

Publication  The Mercury
Date 2000-11-20
Editor Elijah Mhlanga
Web Link

The public accounts committee of the KwaZulu-Natal legislature may subpoena senior government officials such as accounting officers or heads of department who fail to appear before the committee when requested to do so. 

Members of the powerful parliamentary committee considered the move on Monday after noticing "a laid-back attitude" apparently adopted by senior employees who failed to account for their actions. 

Committee members in Pietermaritzburg expressed concern that officials who "did not take their committees seriously" could be hauled before the committee to explain their suspected reluctance to be accountable.

The public accounts committee scrutinises all provincial government departments on behalf of the provincial parliament and on certain occasions summons officials to account for specific issues.

Explain their Suspected Reluctance to be Accountable 

Those who failed to turn up included officials from the social welfare and population development department. They had gone to the Durban high court to hear "test cases" on the pension chaos. 

A provincial Democratic Alliance MP and a committee member, Mark Lowe, said: "We feel we are not taken seriously enough by the departments. We must be respected because we are not a portfolio committee, but a standing committee of parliament with an oversight function." 

The committee met to consider responses from departments which emanated from a report recently tabled by the auditor-general. 

'We feel we are not taken seriously enough by the departments'

With acknowledgement to Elijah Mhlanga and The Mercury.