Auditor-General Tsakani Maluleke.

  • The Eastern Cape has the highest unauthorised spending in the country – a whopping R1.59 billion. 
  • The province’s health department is facing the highest contingent liabilities in the country at R36.75 billion above all local and national auditees.
  • The Auditor-General said there was doubt whether the department would be able to continue with its operations as planned, based on its current financial position.

The Eastern Cape has the highest unauthorised spending in the country – a whopping R1.59 billion. 

The province’s embattled health department is facing the highest contingent liabilities in the country at R36.75 billion above all local and national auditees.

This according to a report released by Auditor-General Tsakani Maluleke on Wednesday.

Maluleka was releasing the 2019/20 General Report for national and provincial governments and their entities for the first time since taking office in December. 

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She said there was doubt whether the department would be able to continue with its operations as planned, based on its current financial position.

Maluleke found many Eastern Cape departments had repeat findings and stagnated on an unqualified opinion with findings, as the leadership did not sufficiently implement preventative control.

She added poor internal controls negatively affected the outcomes at key service delivery departments, namely health, transport and education.

Maluleke found the most common areas of non-compliance with legislation were a failure to prevent irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure as well as inadequate procurement and contract management.

The DA said the devastating outcomes revealed by Maluleke could, in part, be attributed to the ANC’s cadre deployment policies and complete lack of accountability for those guilty of wrongdoing.

Leadership

The party added the report painted a bleak picture of an Eastern Cape government that was failing under the ANC’s leadership.

Maluleke said although there were signs of improvement at some auditees, her office “cannot yet see the progressive and sustainable improvements required to prevent accountability failures and deal with them appropriately and consistently across national and provincial government”.

The report revealed that countrywide, 74% of the auditees received unqualified audit opinions on their financial statements, a slight improvement from 71% the previous year. 

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The number of auditees that submitted quality financial statements increased – 49% of them could give financial statements without misstatements, which was still low.

There are 111 (26%) auditees that managed to produce quality financial statements and performance reports to comply with key legislation, thereby receiving a clean audit. 

This is a slight improvement from the 98 (23%) the previous year. 

These auditees represent 17% of the expenditure budget of R1.7 trillion at national and provincial government. 

“The only way for the Eastern Cape to improve audit outcomes and eradicate corruption and maladministration is to practice consequence management,” said DA leader Bobby Stevenson.

Eastern Cape government spokesperson Mvusiwekhaya Sicwetsha said now that the report was out, responsible authorities in government were expected to affect consequence management and submit a report to the executive council.

He added the provincial government continued to attend to issues of preventing irregular, fruitless and authorised expenditure in the province. 

According to Sicwetsha, there was progress in Eastern Cape audit as four auditees had improved even though one had regressed. The Auditor-General rightfully attributed the audit improvements to the leadership of the government, which implemented commitments and oversight, being involved and accountable, he added.

“So, this shows that government leaders are doing something about issues picked by the auditing process.”

Spin

Sicwetsha said the DA’s spin on the matter was not surprising.

“The Eastern Cape provincial government is not happy with the audit outcomes of departments that did not obtain clean audits. “Challenges faced by the Department of Health are being addressed through the strategy to set up a litigation unit in the premier’s office that deals with these cases.”

He added the province was improving the provision of clinical care to reduce cases of negligence by digitising records to ensure every engagement between health workers and patients was properly recorded.

“We want to ensure 100% safe and effective clinical care to our people,” said Sicwetsha.

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