My mandate as Auditor-General
Kimi Makwetu Auditor-General of South Africa he article headlined “Vote to end corruption – Auditor-General” (City Press, November 29 2015) refers. The article was accompanied by a poster headlined “Vote Them Out”, also attributed to me.
City Press has kindly given me this space to voice my discomfort with the headline and the related content in the article.
When I was interviewed for the article, I was asked why our general reports never mention corruption. I spent considerable time painstakingly pointing out that we do not pronounce on corruption because our annual audits do not examine the intent of deviation from controls. It was, therefore, unfortunate that the article’s headline was framed to project me as having urged citizens “to vote to end corruption”.
When my interviewer asked whether my office had powers to compel auditees to address our audit findings and implement our recommendations, I explained the country’s accountability framework, namely that we, as
Tauditors, do not have the mandate, capacity or instruments to hold elected representatives to account when they do not act on our recommendations, and that citizens are better empowered to do this through the ballot box. I was restating the accountability framework that is in place in our democracy, not implying that citizens should vote for any particular individual or organisation.
Furthermore, the key issue is the difference between agitating to act, which is the impression created by the headline, and clarifying the various roles in the accountability chain, which was our emphasis.
It is not our mandate to tell voters who to vote for, or to tell government ministers how they should run their portfolios. Ours is to audit, and to report our findings and recommendations to Parliament and other oversight structures (like legislatures and municipal councils). These are the bodies that hold the executive accountable. We will continue to execute this constitutional mandate steadfastly.
Makwetu is the Auditor-General of South Africa