Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu. Picture: Gallo Images
Despite the promises of accountability in managing public finances, the national and provincial government spent R62.60 billion in the 2018- 2019 financial year in irregular expenditure, up from last year’s R51 billion – and cadre deployment is to blame, said an expert.
Auditor-General (AG) Kimi Makwetu yesterday called on political leaders, accounting officers and authorities, as well as oversight structures, to take immediate action to restore government’s accountability to the people of South Africa.
Makwetu said the number of irregular expenditures could be even higher, as 34% of the audits were qualified because disclosed amounts were incomplete.
Political analyst Xolani Dube said it was time to stop relying on people aligned with political parties to fix SA’s crisis.
Ethics and morality were not relevant to political leaders, he said.
“We are in a failed state, led by selfish and greedy people. We can’t apply economics or say let’s change leaders to get better results.
“It is high time we promote people from rural areas who are not linked to the ANC to save the country. We have to be honest about how our leaders continue to fail us,” Dube said.
Electing ANC cadres to positions of power was the first mistake.
“The 1994 elite project of making ANC administrators of the country has failed dismally.
“People who are put in public finance management offices are soulless and care less about poverty or the future. We are expecting the impossible by believing they can transform our country,” he said.
Makwetu painted a picture of administrators and authorities who had largely failed to implement audit counsel and recommendations from his office.
“Our recommendations did not require more than what accounting officers and authorities were legally obligated to do by existing laws,” Makwetu said. “We simply re-emphasised basic accountability measures such as proper planning and budgeting; establishing internal controls.”
He said executive authorities and oversight structures did not lead by example in setting the correct tone which “would enable accountability, transparency and good governance”.
Makwetu’s revealed audit outcomes had regressed since 2014- 15, with only 80 audits improving and 91 regressing.
“Only 100 (26%) of the auditees managed to produce quality financial statements and performance reports and to comply with key legislation, thereby receiving a clean audit. In 2014-15, 106 auditees had clean audits,” said Makwetu.
There were serious weaknesses in the financial management of national and provincial government that had not been addressed over the past five years, Makwetu noted in his report.
Unauthorised expenditure remained high at R1.3 billion.
“There was an emerging risk of increased litigation and claims against departments. Over a third of the departments had claims against them above 10% of their next year’s budget,” Makwetu said.
Wasteful expenditure continued to rise, with 223 auditees losing R849 million in the current year. Over the past five years, R4.16 billion of government expenditure was fruitless and wasteful.
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