Scopa to deal with ‘repeat offender’ money-eating municipalities

Mkhuleko Hlengwa, new Scopa chairperson. Picture: Bongani Mbatha / African News Agency (ANA)

Scopa will go after officials who transgressed the Public Finance Management Act and the Municipal Finance Management Act.

More than a dozen municipalities will soon have to explain to parliament why they have repeatedly failed to receive clean audits, and to heed the reports of the auditor-general (AG).

This is according to Mkhuleko Hlengwa, chairperson of the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa), who was speaking after the 22nd Internal Audit Conference yesterday.

These 13 “repeat offender” municipalities were part of a list of municipalities parliament wanted from the AG’s office.

With the power to pursue offending municipalities, the office will go after officials who transgressed the Public Finance Management Act and the Municipal Finance Management Act.

In June this year, a joint meeting of Scopa and the standing committee on the auditor-general urged the enforcement of the expanded mandate of that office. The committees requested the AG’s office to send through a list of the 13 municipalities which were repeat offenders on the municipal audit outcomes for the 2017-18 financial year.

Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu told the committees that irregular expenditure in municipalities currently stood at a whopping R71 billion, due mainly to the fact that irregular expenditure was not being addressed by municipalities on a year-by-year basis.

The committees were also told that all provinces had deteriorated in their compliance with legislation, supply chain management and consequence management.

“There are 13 repeat offenders who will be scheduled for hearings,” said Hlengwa.

“They will appear to explain the financial management crisis they are in and the extent to which they have received adverse findings over a period of three to five years, because that speaks to municipalities that are not functional.

“It means that financial management in those municipalities has collapsed and we need some sort of platform for this to be unpacked.”

Hlengwa emphasised the importance of the auditing profession in the fight against corruption in South Africa and lamented the lack of respect with which it was treated by those who needed to be held accountable.

“This is particularly the case in the public sector as well as in government departments,” he said.

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