There’s nothing like a government-scale financial screw-up to remind you that the mistakes you make in your day to day really aren’t worth stressing about. This recent mess is a doozy. Gauteng’s provincial government was meant to pay Microsoft R20.9 million for software. In an accounting error for the ages, the government instead paid $20.9 million, which translates to over R300 million.
Your taxes are safe in our hands – JHB government
The transaction took place in February, but only became known to the public recently. The DA’s Gauteng shadow MEC for finance and e-government Adriana Randall described, in a statement to TechCentral, the entire incident as an “act of negligence”. Which we think is putting it lightly.
Apparently the provincial treasury processed the amount in dollars rather than rands to pay for Microsoft’s services, resulting in an overpayment of just under R320 million. The treasury, upon realising its mistake, recalled the amount but, thanks to changes in the exchange rate, lost R6.8 million on the way back in. Read that again: R6.8 million worth of taxpayer’s money — gone.
We don’t need to tell you that that’s an obscene amount of money effectively flushed down the toilet thanks to some schmuck mistaking this (R) for this ($). And if your blood is boiling already, don’t start thinking about what that money could have gone towards. Like road repairs, or power line maintenance, or even vaccines. Randell says that R6.8 million could have gone towards 48 000 Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
Further, Randell went on to slam the provincial government for the error, saying that while the payment is being probed, stronger repercussions should be in store for the official responsible for it.
“Consequence management is the only way in which errors like these will not happen and will send a strong message to any government official that is involved in negligence.”
Frankly, we agree.