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1999

UNITED DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT

MEDIA RELEASE


FINANCIAL CRISES AT LEGAL AID BOARD AND SA RAIL COMMUTERS CORPORATION

MEDIA STATEMENT ISSUED BY GERHARD KOORNHOF, MP
UDM SPOKESPERSON FINANCE

 Some shocking and disturbing information has been revealed today at a meeting of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Finance regarding the adjustment estimates for the current financial year. 

 The financial crisis of the Legal Aid Board has reached mammoth proportions. The history is complex and the views of the various role-players differ widely. No doubt the various complexities will be debated ad infinitum. In fact, we are convinced that South Africa will witness a mudslinging contest involving the ruling party, certain opposition parties, the Legal Aid Board, the legal profession, and others. This politicking will detract from the core of the debate.

 That central question is: Who should be held responsible and accountable?

 The answer is simple. The responsible and accountable persons appointed by a democratic government are the Minister of Justice and his Director General, as accounting officer of that Department. Ultimately, the real losers in this saga are the poor and marginalized people who are deprived of justice, the people who can least afford it.

The R432 million operating cost shortfall of the South African Rail Commuter Corporation points to gross negligence on the part of the accounting officer of the Department of Transport. This is particularly true in light of the fact that the financial problems of the SARCC have been discussed in Parliamentary Committees for several years now, to no avail. Nonetheless, the SARCC has succeeded in accumulating debt of R1.8 billion. In spite of its huge debt burden the SARCC has requested an additional R632 million over the past two financial years.

 We can draw only one conclusion: bad financial management. The Minister of Transport should take political responsibility for this.

Enquiries:
Gerhard Koornhof, MP
UDM Spokesperson for Finance

11 November 1999

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