My man­date as Au­di­tor-Gen­eral

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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

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