State auditor rejects cover-up pleas
Auditor-general Kimi Makwetu has revealed that his office is under pressure to cover up adverse audit outcomes.
Makwetu, releasing the audit results of the national and provincial governments on Wednesday, said there was a trend - which had intensified in the 2016-2017 financial year - of government officials contesting his offices' findings.
"It is acceptable," he said, "for those we audit to question and challenge the outcome of audits, based on evidence and solid accounting interpretations or legal grounds.
"We acknowledge that many of the accounting and legal matters dealt with in the audits are complex and often open to interpretation.''
But pressure is sometimes exerted on his office's audit teams "to change conclusions purely to avoid negative audit outcomes or the disclosure of irregular expenditure without sufficient grounds.
"The country cannot allow money intended to serve the people to be lost."
At the national level there was a slight improvement in audit outcomes, with the proportion of clean audits increasing to 30%.
He said progress was hampered by factors such as poor compliance with laws and regulations, especially in supply-chain management, inappropriate monitoring of projects, and an inability to manage the finances of departments and entities adequately.
The Western Cape and Gauteng continued to produce the best provincial audit results.
"It is clear that these results are being
sustained from year to year because of
leadership emphasising a culture of accountability."
Makwetu recognised improvements in the audit outcomes of both the Eastern Cape and Limpopo.
In contrast, the audit outcomes of Mpumalanga, the Northern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal had been erratic in the past four years.
Makwetu singled out North West and the Free State for "lack of accountability and commitment to clean administration" as contributing to the poor showing of these provinces in the audit process. .