World Bank ranks SA's Auditor-General as one of two in the world that has 'full independence'

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Auditor-General Tsakani Maluleke.
Auditor-General Tsakani Maluleke.
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  • The Auditor-General (AG) of South Africa is one of two national audit offices recognised by the World Bank for having full independence to carry out their mandates.
  • AG Tsakani Maluleke attributed the institution's independence to the Constitution, allowing it to carry out its work without interference.
  • The World Bank's supreme audit institutions independence index studies 118 institutions.

The Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA) is one of two national audit offices recognised by the World Bank for having full independence to carry out their mandates without undue interference.

The World Bank's Supreme audit institutions independence index: global synthesis report 2021 studies 118 supreme audit institutions across the world, assessing whether they meet independence indicators. These are based on international standards and practices and include financial, mandate, coverage, and operational dimensions.

It scores countries against five grades: very high, high, substantial, moderate and low.

Only South Africa and Seychelles met all independence indicators and scored 10, ranking "very high".

Argentina, Brazil and China were among the 17 that met most of the independence indicators and ranked "high". Countries that ranked low as few independence indicators were met include Panama and South Sudan.

According to the World Bank report, some of the challenges faced by audit offices include undue political influence, restrictions in being able to access required information to perform audits, inadequate budgets, the lack of ability to enforce compliance with audit findings, weak interactions with Parliament and lacking adequate or properly trained staff.

Credit to the Constitution

In a statement, Auditor-General Tsakani Maluleke said the positive announcement is a "credit" to the Constitution which "jealously protects the independence " of the office, allowing it to carry out its work without interference.

Chapter 9 of the Constitution states that the audit office must be impartial and must exercise its powers and perform its functions without fear, favour or prejudice, the AGSA said in a statement.

"If we look at how our office compares against the audit offices from big economies and old democracies in this assessment, we must appreciate the independence and support we continue to receive from our Parliament, through the Standing Committee on the Auditor-General and other oversight structures; the executive and administration at all government tiers," said Maluleke.

"This announcement is also the good news that our country currently needs to show the world that, while we have challenges like other nations, we are still a global force to be reckoned with as we have systems such as the national audit office that could turn our governance plight around, if its audit counsel is followed religiously," said Maluleke.

The AGSA was also recently voted as the 2021 employer of choice in the public sector, part of the South African Graduate Employers Association's Employer Awards.

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