NATIONAL NEWS - On Wednesday, the auditor-general (AG) of South Africa, Kimi Makwetu released yet another set of local government audit results for the 2018-19 financial year, which revealed that there has not been much progress in the management of the municipalities’ finances.
The Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA) consolidated general reports are based on audit work performed on municipalities and their entities.
Releasing his latest report titled ‘Not much to go around, yet not the right hands at the till‘ on the performance of South Africa’s municipalities, Makwetu said irregular expenditure in all municipalities amounted to R32.06 billion from R25.2 billion in the previous year, which is almost a R7-billion increase.
Makweti said this includes the R10.6 billion irregular expenditure of those municipalities of which the audits were completed after the cut-off date for the report, which was 31 January 2020, as well as the unaudited amounts disclosed in the financial statements of the municipalities whose audits were still outstanding.
The AG noted that irregular expenditure did not necessarily mean there was corruption.
However, he cautioned that the amount could be even higher, as 55% of the municipalities were qualified because the amount they disclosed was incomplete or they disclosed that they had incurred irregular expenditure, but that the full amount was not known.
In addition, R0.36 billion worth of contracts could not be audited due to missing or incomplete information.
“Municipalities have a poor track record of dealing with irregular expenditure and ensuring accountability. As a result, the year-end balance of irregular expenditure that had accumulated over many years and had not been dealt with stood at R65.59 billion whether through recovery, condonement or write-off,” he said.
Makwetu said he had spent the lockdown period engaging with local government officials to consolidate the report.