They do wrong with impunity in Limpopo – provincial AG

2013-09-26 18:25

Just a month after Auditor-General Terence Nombembe revealed that only one of the 30 municipalities in Limpopo had received a clean audit opinion, he was back in the province bearing more bad news.

While there have been some improvements, key departments continue to achieve poor audit outcomes, the AG’s report on the province’s 13 departments for the last financial year has shown.

The release of the report follows the announcement last month that control of the five departments that were put under administration almost two years ago would be handed back to the province. National government intervened after alleged corruption, wasteful and fruitless expenditure threatened to cripple the administration.

Nombembe and his provincial counterpart, Derik Strydom, presented the audit report to a poorly attended Limpopo legislature sitting in Lebowakgomo today.

Key departments that account for 76% of the provincial budget – health, education and public works – have once again received disclaimers or adverse audit opinions.

These departments were among the five put under administration in 2011.

Seven departments achieved clean audit outcomes while three scored unqualified audit opinions.

An improvement was noted in that the number of departments that received clean audits had gone up from five in the financial year 2010-’11 to seven in 2012-’13. Qualified reports also dropped from five to three from 2011-’12 to the last report.

Only one department received an adverse opinion in 2011-’12 and the number went up to three in the following financial year.

While there was a drop in unauthorised, irregular and fruitless and wasteful expenditure, today’s report also showed regressions in procurement management, expenditure management as well as asset and liability management, which were all cited as areas that required attention.

The Limpopo AG raised serious concerns about the departments that received disclaimers, citing public works as the worst case.

Strydom said challenges in education, health and public works were still “quite significant”, adding that the three were 100% non-compliant.

He said deterioration continued in these departments, citing a lack of commitment from management. Strydom said attention still needed to be paid to areas like supply chain management as well as human resource management.

He challenged members of the provincial legislature to take it upon themselves and commit to rid Limpopo of its financial challenges.

“If we want to change this picture and drive Limpopo to a clean audit, it starts in this house. We don’t want to be in a position where we fix things after year-end,” Strydom said.

He further urged political leaders to act and not only give their commitment verbally, adding that “we get commitments but nothing happens”.

Lack of consequences for poor performance and transgression was also cited as one of the root causes of Limpopo’s poor financial performance. Strydom said people continued to “do wrong with impunity” in Limpopo.

In response, Limpopo Premier Stan Mathabatha said if indeed people were still doing wrong without consequences then it would have to come to an end.

“We’re charging a number of people (based on the findings of several investigations) and some are appearing before courts,” he said.

“We have listened and we’re going to act,” he added.

The DA in Limpopo described the audit results for 2012-’13 as a “shocking indictment of how the ANC has misgoverned this province”.

“Education, health and public works have never had a clean outcome ever since this administration took over in 2009. As the AG has himself acknowledged, this means service delivery in the critical areas provided by these departments is severely diminished,” said DA MPL Desiree van der Walt.

“Furthermore, overall our province has regressed instead of showing improvement on audit results. This is because the departments of agriculture and social development have now been added to the list of bad performers.

“This is to be expected, as the AG himself noted; there is reluctance to charge departments’ officials where they transgress the laws. Officials who are entrusted with public finance deal with it recklessly with no consequences to follow. This effectively means that the goal to reach clean audits by 2014 will simply not be achieved,” she said.

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