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The state of Roads Agency Lim­popo’s fi­nan­cial books con­tin­ues to im­prove, re­sult­ing in an un­qual­i­fied au­dit opin­ion in the lat­est au­dit by the Au­di­tor-Gen­eral.

The Board and the Ex­ec­u­tive Man­age­ment of RAL sees the find­ings of the coun­try’s au­dit in­sti­tu­tion as a vin­di­ca­tion of RAL’s re­lent­less ef­forts to put its finances on a sound foot­ing over the past few months.

The lat­est au­dit opin­ion by the Au­di­tor-Gen­eral—which is an un­qual­i­fied au­dit opin­ion with find­ings—is an im­prove­ment from the qual­i­fied opin­ion RAL got in the pre­ced­ing fi­nan­cial year. Even though there is still a room for im­prove­ment, the agency is clearly out of the dol­drums and the era when its au­dit find­ings al­ter­nated be­tween an ad­verse opin­ion and a dis­claimer—with the dis­claimer be­ing the worst opin­ion the au­di­tor can ex­press about the state of a pub­lic in­sti­tu­tion’s fi­nance books—is firmly in the past.

RAL CEO Mase­la­ganye Matji says the jour­ney to­wards the goal of a clean au­dit out­come, which is al­ready within RAL’s view of the hori­zon, has been any­thing but plain sail­ing.

“Turn­ing around any or­gan­i­sa­tion re­quires an in­sur­mount­able amount of re­silience, com­mit­ment, fo­cus and patience. Im­ple­ment­ing strate­gies to turn around RAL from an ad­verse au­dit opin­ion in the 2014/15 fi­nan­cial year to an un­qual­i­fied au­dit opin­ion in 2016/17, which is a pe­riod of two years, has been a fas­ci­nat­ing, yet chal­leng­ing task,” he re­calls.

Mr Matji at­tributes the im­prove­ments to the Board’s com­mit­ment to its over­sight role, sta­bil­ity in the agency’s ex­ec­u­tive man­age­ment, and the way the two struc­tures have been un­wa­ver­ing in rolling out the com­pany’s Turn­around Strat­egy.

Through its Turn­around Strat­egy adopted in 2014, the Agency has man­aged to put in place in­ter­nal con­trol mea­sures to root out cor­rup­tion and erad­i­cate ir­reg­u­lar ex­pen­di­ture, strength­ened its ex­ec­u­tive man­age­ment by em­ploy­ing highly qual­i­fied and ex­pe­ri­enced ex­perts, strength­ened in­ter­nal sup­ply chain man­age­ment to en­sure com­pli­ance, and ter­mi­nated il­le­gally ap­pointed con­trac­tors and engi­neers.

The cul­ture of com­pli­ance these in­ter­ven­tions have in­grained is clearly ir­re­versible, and the Agency is firmly on course to elim­i­nate few out­stand­ing is­sues of con­cern in or­der to achieve an un­qual­i­fied au­dit opin­ion with­out find­ings (which is of­ten re­ferred to as a “clean au­dit” in pop­u­lar par­lance) next year.

The Au­di­tor-Gen­eral high­lighted the fact he was un­able to find au­dit ev­i­dence for the amount the agency spent em­ploy­ing labour and for the cre­ation of 1747 full-time jobs.

The au­dit in­sti­tu­tion would like to see RAL do­ing more to pre­vent ir­reg­u­lar ex­pen­di­ture in line with the re­quire­ments of the Pub­lic Fi­nance Man­age­ment Act, and to beef up the sys­tems meant to safe­guard and main­tain its as­sets.

“The en­tity de­vel­oped a plan to ad­dress in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal au­dit find­ings, but the ap­pro­pri­ate level of man­age­ment did not mon­i­tor ad­her­ence to the plan in a timely man­ner,” says the Au­di­tor-Gen­eral. “Non­com­pli­ance with leg­is­la­tion could have been pre­vented had com­pli­ance been prop­erly re­viewed and mon­i­tored. Ef­fec­tive per­for­mance pro­ce­dures had not been ad­e­quately de­vel­oped and im­ple­mented be­cause of the slow re­sponse to pre­vi­ous year au­dit find­ings.” Moves are al­ready afoot to ad­dress the is­sues flagged by the au­dit in­sti­tu­tion to en­sure com­pli­ance go­ing for­ward.

The lead­er­ship of RAL has vowed to spare nei­ther strength nor en­ergy to en­sure the Agency’s bold plans to at­tain a clean au­dit, as il­lus­trated by its yearly pro­gres­sive au­dit im­prove­ments, is re­al­ized.

Mr Matji ex­plains some of the ini­tia­tives un­der­way to en­sure RAL achieves a clean au­dit:

“We have also strength­ened our in­ter­nal fraud de­tec­tion pro­cesses. We have de­clared war against fruit­less and waste­ful ex­pen­di­ture, and ir­reg­u­lar spend­ing be­hav­iour. We have also ex­er­cised fis­cal pru­dence by out­law­ing all forms of un­bud­geted spend­ing.

“The strict bud­get con­trol cul­ture we have in­tro­duced is pay­ing div­i­dends. As part of the Agency’s fis­cal pru­dence ini­tia­tive, we have ef­fec­tively dragged the agency into aus­ter­ity mode. We also com­plied with ev­ery as­pect of the Trea­sury’s pro­cure­ment di­rec­tives. We in­sisted that con­trac­tors should only be con­tracted if there is proof that their ser­vices are ren­dered on a value-for-money ba­sis. We have suc­cess­fully cleansed our sup­plier data­base of all con­trac­tors

who have a his­tory of short­chang­ing the agency,” he says.

UP­BEAT: Pub­lic Works, Roads and In­fra­struc­ture MEC Ms Nandi Ndalane (mid­dle) flanked by RAL Board Chair­per­son Mr Matome Ralebipi (left) and CEO Mr Mase­la­ganye Matji (right)

POS­I­TIVE: Pub­lic Works, Roads and In­fra­struc­ture MEC Ms Nandi Ndalane (left) and CEO Mr Mase­la­ganye Matji (right) all be­lieve there’s room for im­prove­ment

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