Auditor-General Tsakani Maluleke.

  • Auditor-General Tsakani Maluleke says there are far too many weaknesses in financial controls at government departments.
  • Overall, 69% of departments and agencies that were audited did not comply materially with legislation.
  • Unauthorised expenditure increased from R1.65 billion to R18.12 billion.

Widespread weaknesses in basic internal controls are still prevalent at several government departments and agencies, Auditor-General (AG) Tsakani Maluleke says.

On Tuesday, Maluleke painted a grim picture of the country’s finances when she released the general report on national and provincial audit outcomes for the 2019-20 financial year.

The report gives deeper insight into the finances of national and provincial departments as well as state-owned enterprises.

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Overall, 69% of auditees (departments and agencies) did not comply materially with legislation compared to 73% in the previous year.

“The action plans of the accounting officers or authority to proactively address the root causes of audit findings from the previous year. The audit office found the effective implementation of plans at only 34% of our auditees. Information technology (IT) systems controls also stand out as an area where the controls were particularly poor – only 8% of the auditees had good IT general controls. The review and monitoring of compliance with legislation was again at a low level – only 25% had good controls to ensure compliance,” Maluleke said.      

She said unauthorised expenditure due to budget overspending increased from R1.65 billion to R18.12 billion.

Of that amount, R15.13 billion was a result of the early payment of April 2020 social grants as a relief measure during the Covid-19 pandemic and resultant lockdown.

“Over 60% of the departments had insufficient funds to settle all liabilities that existed at year end if the unpaid expenses (totalling R22.78 billion) were also taken into account. A total of 27 departments will have to use more than 10% of their 2020-21 operational budgets,” Maluleke said.

She added that only 42% of the audit departments had proper record-keeping systems in place while 8% had good IT general controls.

Maluleke said the government and oversight structures had given attention to the weaknesses highlighted by her office.

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There has, however, not been any sustained improvement and therefore it remains a concern.

“As the national audit office, our role is to assist the accounting officers and authorities in achieving positive audit outcomes, which will strengthen accountability and improve service delivery to the citizens we serve.

“That has been our objective for many years, and we will remain steadfast in that mission. However, where there are failures and unwillingness to act, we will have to employ the instruments we have been given in our enhanced mandate to enforce accountability,” she said.

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