Premier vows to root out corruption and wastage
● The Gauteng provincial government has warned that it will continue to act tough against officials who continue to flout financial management rules.
Gauteng Premier David Makhura issued the stern warning as the provincial government became the only province in the previous financial year to achieve unqualified financial statements.
‘‘We have also introduced strong anticorruption and integrity promotion measures across various departments in order to rid Gauteng of any corrupt elements. What must be made clear is that those who cross the ethical line will face the consequences. We now have an effective instrument where, through close collaboration with the Special Investigating Unit, all old cases are being attended and new ones immediately when they arise. We mean business,’’ he said.
Finance MEC Barbara Creecy said despite Gauteng celebrating a sustained record of clean and unqualified audits for the previous four years, she was concerned about the high level of irregular expenditure which prevented a number of departments from moving to clean audit status.
Creecy added that the provincial government was currently finalising a financial recovery plan with the National Treasury, which focuses on the development of a financial resources plan, revenue management, expenditure management, indigents management and local economic development.
The auditor-general’s office said one of the main reasons the Gauteng provincial government managed to score a good audit outcome for four consecutive years was due to the province reacting positively to advice from the office of the auditor-general.
“The premier, speaker and members of the executive council, continued to lead by example and insisted on a culture of transparency and accountability in the conduct of public affairs. Co-ordinating departments and external oversight structures complemented this culture, as they sustained their oversight responsibilities,” reads the auditor-general’s report.
The report also commended the quality of the financial statements the provincial government departments and entities submitted for auditing, saying it improved from the previous year, as only 26% as opposed to 35% in the previous financial year, were required to make corrections to their submitted financial statements due to material misstatements identified during the audit.
The report, however, raised concerns that 10 of the 11 provincial departments that did not achieve clean audit outcomes in the current year had material findings on compliance with key legislation — as was the case in the previous three years.
“This remains the main obstacle preventing the province from further improving its audit outcomes, as the administrative leadership and senior management were slow to implement their commitments to address compliance findings.”
It noted that “irregular expenditure disclosed in 2017-2018 remained high at R6.4bn, of which R4.9bn (77%) related to noncompliance with supply chain management [SCM] requirements and R1.2bn (19%) related to human settlements that transferred funds from the human settlements development grant to implementing agents without the National Treasury’s approval”.
The report added that the SCM-related irregular expenditure does not necessarily represent wastage or fraud. She said the Open Tender system last year prevented R1.5bn in irregular expenditure, the only sustained instrument to eradicate irregular expenditure across the province.
Makhosi Khoza, executive director of the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse’s local government, said: “When it comes to housing projects, the provincial human settlements is supposed to oversee the implementation of projects at local government level, and that is where a lot of wastage is happening. The premier should ensure MECs perform their oversight functions.”
Makhura said the provincial government would not hesitate to intervene in poor-performing municipalities to ensure basic services are provided to residents.