Audits: 3 KZN depts clean

2010-10-29 00:00

“KWAZULU-NATAL, the biggest province in the country, is second to the Western Cape in the number of clean audits it has obtained. There is also a heartening momentum in the drive towards improved financial management,” said auditor-general Terence Nombembe in the provincial Legislature yesterday.

Nombembe said the province had three departments with clean audits. This could have been four but the Department of Sports and Recreation slipped back from having an unqualified audit with no matters of concern to an unqualified audit with concerns.

The Western Cape had achieved seven clean audits.

The improvements to totally clean audits were in the departments of Community Safety and Liaison, Treasury and Arts and Culture

According to Nombembe, the other improvement was that KZN had no disclaimers or adverse opinions.

A highlight of the audit report was the Royal Household which — after receiving disclaimers — moved from a qualified audit last year to an unqualified audit with matters of concern in the 2009/10 report.

Premier Zweli Mkhize expressed his delight saying that the Royal Household’s financial affairs have been the subject of very painful negative publicity. “This was not a Royal Household issue, but an administration problem all along,” he said.

The blot on the provincial copybook is the Department of Agriculture, which has regressed from an unqualified to a qualified audit.

Nombembe said the problem was related to how tightly the department’s leadership was monitoring the situation. He said department heads cannot get complacent once they have achieved an unqualified audit. He said the other problem at Agriculture was the dependency on consultants with inadequate skills transfer.

The other departments to receive qualified reports were Health, Social Development and Public Works. Mkhize said all these departments were qualified on the basis of their asset management.

He said programmes are in place to address the weaknesses identified by the auditor-general. These include addressing corruption in supply chain management.

The province is currently engaged in doing an analysis on deviations and expenditure in the procurement process.

A ministerial committee has been set up to deal with asset management and there will be inquiries on a quarterly basis to deal with and try and correct weaknesses.

Nombembe identified human resource constraints as a weakness, saying there was not enough staff to do basics like filing or verification of data.

Mkhize acknowledged that appointing staff had been restricted because of cost-cutting measures, but this was being reviewed.

He said that systems are being put into place so that MECs can have information at a touch of a button and there will be quarterly reviews so that problems are spotted early and resolved.

Mkhize added that another feather in the provincial cap was that it had reversed over-expenditure in most departments.

Nombembe said in future his department will not only work Standing Committees on Public Accounts (Scopa’s), but with all portfolio committees in the provincial Legislature. In this regard he had held meetings with portfolio committee heads yesterday morning.

This was part of government’s goal to achieve clean audits by 2014.

Nombembe stressed that key to improved financial management was good leadership.

“There are no miracles, it simply requires more diligent, more continuous monitoring by the leadership. Together with good internal controls, the thorough collection, filing and verification of information, that’s the simple recipe,” Nombembe said.



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