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Politicians debate 'consultant debacle'

The WC's R10.3m billing debacle sparked debate in the WC Legislature.

The AG’s definition of ‘consultants’ in the WC's R10.3m billing debacle sparked debate in the WC Legislature.

CAPE TOWN - The Auditor-General's definition of the term 'consultants' emerged as a major bone of contention during a heated committee meeting in the Western Cape Legislature.

A recently released Auditor-General's report found the provincial government spent R10.3 billion on consultants between 2008 and 2011.

It was scrutinised by the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) in the province on Thursday.

The Auditor-General includes contractors and service providers under the term 'consultants'.

On Thursday, Western Cape Health MEC Theuns Botha told the committee that this definition is problematic.

"That report is a misrepresentation of the work and the audit that was done."

But Naeem Seedat, from the Auditor-General's office, disagreed.

"Whether they are professional services and whether they're agents, they remain third parties."

The African National Congress (ANC)'s Max Ozinsky was on the Auditor-General's side.

"In all the years I've been in Scopa, never once has a department said to us they disagree in the annual report with the consultants listed there."

The Departments of Health, Transport and Public Works spent the most of consultants.