By Ntombi Mhlongo
Fears that staff might end up not being paid their salaries saved the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) from not receiving its budget allocation for the next financial year.
During the adoption of the budget report for the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Members of Parliament (MPs) submitted that over E20 million allocated for the ACC should be withheld and put under Head 60.
In the budgetary field, the ministries are classified under statutory obligations and Head 60 means money is allocated but who’s going to spend it and how is not yet certain.
Government allocates money under Head 60 to ensure that once it is needed and it a determination has been made on how it is going to be used, it is readily available. The argument by the MPs was that it did not make sense to release a budget for the entity pending its proposed review and merging with the Human Rights Commission as was recommended.
Also, the ACC has challenges executing its duties due to a judgement that declared that certain clauses that established it are unconstitutional.
Gege MP Musa Kunene said releasing millions for the entity was a waste of public funds as they will be used to pay people who do nothing.
He said the ACC has stayed for years without doing anything due to the issues and that what would help would be to speed up the bill that will allow the merger so that the entity can bite hard on those found to have engaged in corrupt means.
It was Chairperson of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security Portfolio Committee MP Mabhanisi Dlamini who reminded his colleagues that putting the budget allocation on hold will frustrate members of staff of the entity as they will not be paid their salaries.
“The other issue that MPs need to consider is that for the ministry to be able to harmonise the merging of the ACC and the Human Rights Commission, funds are needed. That is why it will be in the best interests of all parties to have the budget passed so that the exercise of merging the two entities can be fast-tracked,” MP Mabhanisi submitted.
He mentioned that the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Pholile Shakantu has done her part to ensure that the whole exercise eventually happens.
“The minister even said that the only thing left now is a piece of legislation. MPs and technocrats have already benchmarked and all that is needed is a piece of legislation. The minister even said that within a month, the bill will be tabled,” the MP submitted.
The MPs agreed in unison that the budget should be passed and that they will follow up with the minister to have the bill tabled by the end of April this year.