Johannesburg - Local government is in a state of extreme distress, the SA Municipal Workers' Union (Samwu) said on Tuesday.

“Without proper financial statements, the financial stability of departments and municipalities is threatened, and the ability of the government to meet its obligations is at risk,” Samwu spokesman Tahir Sema said in a statement.

Samwu was reacting to a report by Auditor General Terence Nombembe that found financial controls in government departments and municipalities were slackening.

More than half of government departments could not provide “credible and quality information” in their financial reports, it was reported on Tuesday.

This threatened government's ability to carry out its obligations.

Only 43 percent of national departments achieved clean audits, and only 18 percent of municipalities, the AG told a public sector forum convened by the Institute of Internal Auditors on Monday.

Supply chain management regulations were adhered to by only 43 percent of national departments and 22 percent of municipalities.

Accountant General Freeman Nomvalo, said for the past three years government departments had doubled their irregular spending annually, which created opportunities for public officials to loot funds.

“It opens the way for tender-rigging to become the order of the day.”

Sema said local government was the most corrupt sphere of government, with the least oversight. National government needed to intervene urgently.

“These facts support what Samwu and its members have been saying - local government is not functioning as it supposed to. It is riddled not only with financial woes but also with corruption, maladministration, and a lack of accountability,” he said. - Sapa