Durban - KwaZulu-Natal accounted for 41 percent of all unauthorised expenditure incurred by provincial governments, the SA Institute of Race Relations said on Thursday.
North West Province accounted for the least, revealed figures published recently in The Survey, the institute's annual year book.
Researcher Georgina Alexander said the figures were for the 2011/12 tax year and were from information found in the auditor-general's General Report on the Provincial Audit Outcomes, 2011/12.
Alexander could not say whether any of the expenditure incurred on President Jacob Zuma's Nkandla residence was included in these figures.
After KwaZulu-Natal's R1.2 billion in unauthorised expenditure Gauteng was responsible for 36 percent of unauthorised expenditure incurred by provinces during the year.
Altogether, provinces had total unauthorised expenditure of some R2.9 million.
The North West did not incur any unauthorised expenditure while Mpumalanga incurred R1.3 million.
Unauthorised expenditure means overspending on the amount that was previously agreed to by Parliament.
When it came to irregular expenditure, Gauteng and North West were the big spenders, with Gauteng incurring R4 billion and North West Province R3.96 billion in irregular expenditure.
Irregular expenditure means expenditure incurred in contravention of, or not in accordance with, the requirements of any applicable legislation.
In total, provinces incurred R21.3 billion in irregular expenditure.
Only the Western Cape and Mpumalanga incurred irregular expenditure that was less than R1 billion with R231 million and R457 million respectively.
When it came to fruitless and wasteful expenditure, Gauteng was again the leader of the pack with R228 million in 2011/12 followed by the Eastern Cape.
These two provinces racked up a little over half the total of R716 million fruitless and wasteful expenditure incurred by provinces.
Fruitless and wasteful expenditure is defined as expenditure which was made in vain and would have been avoided had reasonable care been exercised.
The Western Cape with R5 million and Mpumalanga with R11 million incurred the least in fruitless and wasteful expenditure.
KwaZulu-Natal and the Northern Cape saw an increase in all three categories over the previous year.
KwaZulu-Natal showed a 352 percent increase in unauthorised expenditure over the previous year from R265 million to R1.2 billion.
Its irregular expenditure increased by 92.44 percent from R1.4 billion to R2.7 billion and its fruitless and wasteful expenditure increased by 675 percent from R12 million to R93 million.
The Northern Cape saw unauthorised expenditure go up by 74.2 percent from R66 million to R115 million over the previous year, and irregular expenditure by 36.66 percent from R1.683 billion to R2.3 billion.
Fruitless and wasteful expenditure increased from R9 million to R39 million.
“The amount of money that is wasted due to unauthorised, irregular, and fruitless and wasteful expenditure is cause for grave concern,” said Harris.
“This money has the ability, if spent properly, to raise the living standards of thousands of people across South Africa.”