Cape Town - The Western Cape was the best performing province in the 2015/16 financial year, Auditor General Kimi Makwetu has said.
The province obtained the highest number of unqualified audit opinions across its departments and public entities with 79%.
Second was Gauteng with 60%, with KwaZulu-Natal third with 33%.
The other provinces records were: Eastern Cape - 32%; Free State - 11%; Limpopo 0%, but 66% unqualified with findings; Mpumalanga - 29%; Northern Cape - 30%, North West - 9%.
The provinces also had a combined R22.74bn in irregular expenditure, of the total R46bn across all government departments and entities for the year under review.
The irregular expenditure for each province was:
- North West - R2.9bn;
- Northern Cape - R1.7bn;
- Mpumalanga - R4bn;
- Limpopo R1bn;
- KwaZulu-Natal - R3.5bn;
- Gauteng - R6.5bn;
- Free State - R1.9bn;
- Eastern Cape - R1.24bn;
- Western Cape - R28m.
Makwetu said the AG's office also looked at each province's performance over the last three years for the first time, and said there was an overall improvement in the numbers.
The biggest improvers over the last three years were the Eastern Cape (36%), KZN (26%) and Gauteng (14%).
It was not good news for all provinces however.
The Free State and Mpumalanga regressed over the last three years.
The North West's audit results were described as "erratic", having improved in 2014/15 but regressed in 2015/16.
Limpopo and the Northern Cape meanwhile had marginal improvements over the three-year period
'Leadership the difference'
Auditor General Kimi Makwetu presented the results of the PFMA 2015/16 report at a press briefing in Parliament on Wednesday.
Makwetu said the differences between the Western Cape and Gauteng's performance compared to other provinces came down to leadership.
"If you look at two provinces in particular, in those provinces, there is what is called a forum of all the MECs and accounting officers, mayors and municipal managers who normally gather to deal with these matters.
"I think that proactive leadership engagement has contributed to the creation and the sustainability of the clean audits."
It was not about finding ways to get around the audit, but finding ways to create a transparent environment, he said.
The Auditor General's office was invited to attend those meetings.
He also said those meetings were followed up with continual progress updates.
"It's a mixed bag. There's nothing really in terms of the mechanics in managing finances that is stronger. What is the differentiator is the specific role being played by the leadership. They are being anticipatory.
"There are also other interventions of following up to assess the progress."
Makhwethu said all provinces largely had the same kind of resources available to them.