Irregular expenditure at municipal level has increased by over 50% in the last financial year, the Auditor-General said in Pretoria on Wednesday.
In his audit results, Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu said irregular expenditure went up by R16.81 billion, the highest since the auditor started tracking the values.
“The amount could be even higher, as a third of the municipalities disclosed that the full amount was not known and 24% were qualified as the amount they disclosed was incomplete,” Makwetu said.
The top 10 contributing municipalities were responsible for 42% of the irregular expenditure. This includes the OR Tambo District Municipality in Eastern Cape, with an irregular expenditure of R1.4 billion, and the capital city Tshwane, at R653 million in the 2015/16 financial year.
The trend showed poor accountability in local government but the figure did not necessarily represent wastage of funds or fraud committed, he explained.
“This needs to be confirmed through investigations to be done by the council, but losses could already have arisen or may still arise if follow-up investigation are not undertaken.
“The year-end balance of irregular expenditure that had accumulated over many years and had not been dealt with through recovery, condonement or writing off was R41.7 billion.”
Meanwhile, Tshwane municipality was ranked the highest contributor to unauthorised expenditure, with a total overspending value of close to R2 billion in the 2015/16 financial year.
“We believe that the newly elected mayors, councillors and the administration that supports them are ready to accept their responsibilities and are willing to be held accountable for the performance of the municipalities they now govern,” Makwetu said.
The Western Cape continued setting the pace for clean audits, from 73% to 80% of their municipalities.
Eastern Cape, Limpopo and Mpumalanga showed a significant improvement, indicating leadership in those provinces had adhered more closely to audit recommendations from last year.