Officials responsible for bad audits will face consequences - Sihle Zikalala
Durban - The premier of KwaZulu-Natal Sihle Zikalala says several officials are facing disciplinary hearings while others have resigned over the results of the bad audits given to some departments by the Auditor General (AG), Kimi Makwetu.
Zikalala says while it may appear as if they are not taking action against accounting officials under whose watch public funds were misused, they are in fact acting.
He said this while responding to media questions on Tuesday on the sidelines of the three day KZN provincial government Lekgotla held in Durban.
“We have developed the operation clean audit to respond to the challenge of irregular expenditure as presented by the Auditor General. We (have) developed a comprehensive clean audit focusing on three departments that have received qualified audit opinions in the past three years and those are departments of health, agriculture and transport. We are attending to that, looking at causal factors and ensuring that people who are accountable are accountable. You think that there are no consequences, watch this space, you will see, we are dealing with those issues,” he said.
He added that his own office, the Office of the Premier, is also under the radar after it was flagged for an irregular expenditure by Makwetu.
“We have also noted a regression in the office of the premier, we are attending to that and decisions are continuously taken to improve the financial performance. We have targeted departments that we want to see getting clean audits. There are departments that still face challenges, objective challenges and we will continue to assist those department(s). We may not want to reveal individuals who are already facing DC (disciplinary committee) or are resigning, we may not want to deal with that here today but at some point, we will give you details when it comes to that,” Zikalala added.
In October last year, The Mercury reported that the AG warned the KwaZulu-Natal government to quickly address the underlying causes of irregular expenditure which continues to rise on a yearly basis. This was after the 2018/2019 financial year audits revealed that the provincial irregular expenditure had risen from R9.8bn to R12.4bn.
According to the paper, that irked Makwetu so much that in his final report he said: “Irregular expenditure of previous years is not properly dealt with through investigations followed by condonement, recovery or write-off of the expenditure.”
Earlier during the day while opening the lekgotla which was attended by MECs, heads of departments, mayors and heads of government-owned companies, Zikalala said the province had delivered one of the dismal performances in the latest audit outcomes by the Auditor-General and, 'as expected, some of us have had to immediately account'.
“I want to be categorically clear that this is not who we are and we do not belong in this position. The Auditor-General has called for more effective leadership, oversight responsibility and stricter compliance monitoring. We now need to demonstrate all these things. In the report, the majority of the irregular expenditure was as a result of non-compliance with supply chain regulations.
“This is concerning given the time and effort we have already dedicated to this issue in the recent past. This Lekgotla must be a turning point; clearly we have to account for our actions where applicable. We can no longer reward non-performance and neither can we tolerate mediocrity and under-performance,” Zikalala told the gathering.