Treasury has ordered government departments and organisations to tighten their belts after reports of extravagant spending.
Yet the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has splurged R1.5 million on a four-day 'strategic planning workshop' at Africa Pride Mount Grace Country House and Spa in Magaliesburg. This despite reports that it is cash-strapped after exceeding its budget during the 2016 municipal elections.
Marco Granelli, senior communications manager at the IEC, explains the decision to Charlotte Kilbane (standing in for Stephen Grootes) on The Midday Report.
He acknowledged that the IEC did indeed spend the money on the workshop. he says the amount covered hotel accommodation costs, venue costs and travel for all staff attending.
He added that the IEC is a very decentralised organisation with staff spread across the entire country with a relatively small head office. Staff were coming from each province to attend.
So they needed to come to a central venue and unfortunately the head office does not have the facilities to cater for a workshop of that size...so we needed a venue anyway that made sense.— Marco Granelli, senior communications manager IEC
Granelli said the IEC travel agent found this venue which offered a very competitive rate which was in line with treasury regulations and IEC's own policy.
There were no rules or laws broken here.— Marco Granelli, senior communications manager IEC
The electoral Commission is acutely aware of the financial situation of the country and the need to be as frugal as possible. But at the same time we have to balance our work and what we are needing to do, and especially the preparation for the elections in 2019.— Marco Granelli, senior communications manager IEC
Preparation for a general election take at least eighteen months to two years, he noted.
Granelli denies that the IEC chief executive tried to cancel the workshop and says rather he had wanted to postpone it.
He explained why...
Exco had met that day and the IEC is anticipating a R71 million adjustment, or additional funding, from Treasury as part of the Division of Revenue Amendment Bill, and the Bill was postponed in Parliament because there wasn't a quorum.— Marco Granelli, senior communications manager IEC
When the anticipated R71million was delayed on that day, Granelli admits it did place great pressure on the IEC's cash-flow.
Due to that the CEO and Exco had taken a decision in conjunction with the Commission that day that it would be preferable to postpone the event until the cash-flow improved.— Marco Granelli, senior communications manager IEC
Unfortunately he says, the venue could not be cancelled at such late notice without a cancellation fee, so the workshop went ahead.
Listen to IEC's Marco Granelli explain why he feels the workshop expenditure was justified...
This article first appeared on 702 : R1.5 million IEC workshop at luxury 5-star resort raises eyebrows