Despite economic challenges faced by the people, thousands of taxpayers’ monies are being wasted by government sectors like the education and training authority for agriculture (AgriSETA).
According to a released document, AgriSETA blew nearly R42 000 to rent a luxury vehicle for its acting chairperson for a period of just three days.
The document, which included an “authorization for internal travel” request submitted on Ka Plaatjie’s behalf, stated that Thami ka Plaatjie, a former secretary general of the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) who joined the ANC in 2011, requested the vehicle for a road trip in October 2016.
Though it’s not yet clear whether the AgriSETA paid for the hotel expenses or what these expenses may have amounted to, AgricSETA member who reported the case also wrote “Mercedes, pls” next to the section on the form where details about the car hire needed to be filled in.
News24 noted that the documents in their possession show that AgriSETA paid a local travel agency an amount of R41 775.42 for a BMW X5 used by Ka Plaatjie for his travels. It also reported that Ka Plaatjie would be “meeting with [the] minister, [to attend] Agriculture’s event and [meet with] Prof Mayende”.
Seeing as the SETAs fall under the control of the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), the document is likely referring to DHET minister Blade Nzimande and his department, reported News24 who also claimed it asked the DHET whether Nzimande had met with Ka Plaatjie during that time, but its spokesperson did not respond to the queries.
The request form also shows that the acting chairperson stayed at the Southern Sun hotel in Bloemfontein and at the Premier Hotel in East London during the three days he was on the road.
The AgriSETA, however, did not respond to the queries but Caren Cleinwerck, the entity’s marketing coordinator, confirmed receipt of the queries on Monday.
“I acknowledge receipt of your email and have forwarded [it] to the relevant party to respond, specifically the CEO, Mr Jerry Madiba,” Cleinwerck said in an email.
This report came at the time AgriSETA has little or no money to pursue its education and training mandate. The sector has a mandate to promote education, training and skills development among South Africans who work in or who intend to work in the agriculture sector.
But, in its latest annual report, the organization is saying it does not have enough money to reach all its goals mainly because, like other SETAs, it is largely dependent on the mandatory contributions of companies and other employers.
“Revenue collection and also the identification of new revenue streams remains a huge challenge for the Finance department supported by my office. Our business operations cover a very big and critical sector of our economy . . . yet the revenue from levies deducted . . . is very minimal compared to other SETAs due to a low wage bill in the economic sector,” wrote CEO Jerry Madiba in the 2015-16 annual report.
The ANC member, Ka Plaatjie, who did not answer his phone or respond to queries emailed to him, has earned a little reputation as an author of controversial open letters.
In 2014, Ka Plaatjie, in a letter published by the Sunday Independent, lashed out at former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela following the completion of her report on President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla residence.
He accused her of pointing fingers at the president saying he veered away from accountability and responsibility in relation to the Nkandla matter and then she appoints herself as the conscience of the nation.
“The victories you have attained in recent times have surely warped your mind. The fact that you released your report on Nkandla just before the election was also indicative of the extent to which you have become political,” Ka Plaatjie had written.
SETA ultimately aims at ensuring that all its sub-sectors are achieving what they need to achieve, and thus ensure the critical need for skills development in South Africa at very least over the next five years.