Auditor-general Kimi Makwetu guns for looters
The auditor-general Kimi Makwetu will soon be able to initiate the prosecutions of those responsible for looting of state coffers or force them to pay from their pockets.
The amended Public Audit Act, which aims to give the auditor-general's office more teeth, is expected to ensure that there's consequences for those allowing the looting state resources.
Makwetu said he was "emboldened" and hopeful that the amended act, which came into force in April this year, would have a positive impact.
This comes as Makwetu announced that SA's 257 municipalities recorded R25,2bn in irregular expenditure in the 2017/2018 financial year.
The amended laws would for the first time introduce a concept of material irregularity, if such irregularity is found during the audit process, binding remedial actions can be issued.
"Possible actions include the material irregularity being referred to an investigative body and the auditor-general will have powers to trigger a certificate of debt in the name of an accounting officer or accounting authority responsible for the irregularity," Makwetu said.
Makwetu, who lambasted municipalities for ignoring recommendations made by his office in the previous years, said the latest audit period reflected the highest level of noncompliance with key governance laws since 2011/2012.
"The audit's office's consistent and insistent calls for local government leadership to effect consequences for transgressions and irregularities were not heeded," Makwetu said.
He said the key message from the audit results released this week was that most of the recommendations made by his office were either slowly implemented or "blatantly disregarded".
However, in the next audit report, Makwetu will be able to take action in instances where material irregularities have been uncovered as the amended Public Audit Act became effective from April.
The South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) welcomed the amended laws saying they were hopeful that the new laws would "assist going forward".
Samwu general-secretary Koena Ramatlou said: "Over and above the Public Audit Act, we as Samwu are going to take the last three audit reports of the auditor-general to the public protector [to investigate irregular expenditure], because the act can't be used on past audit findings but we can't allow public funds to disappear just like that."
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