Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu. Picture: Dumisani Sibeko/African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - Civil society organisation Section27 has urged President Cyril Ramaphosa and the nine premiers to act against their ministers and MECs whose departments have recorded irregular and wasteful expenditure involving billions.

On Monday, David McLaren - Section27 budget analyst - said the civil society organisation had noted with mounting frustration the deplorable audit outcome reports presented by Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu to ­Parliament last week.

Makwetu revealed that an amount of R61.4billion was irregularly spent by the national and provincial governments in the 2018/19 financial year. Government departments also recorded R1.4bn wasteful expenditure.

The AG’s report also found that 9% of auditees were now in a vulnerable financial position, saying they might soon lack the finances to continue their operations.

“At the time of massive strain on the fiscus resulting from years of state capture, and worsened by debilitating austerity, it is unacceptable that national and provincial government departments continue to spend public money illegally and wastefully,” McLaren said.

He said Section27 was calling on Parliament, the premiers and provincial legislatures, as representatives of the people charged with holding departments to account, to rein in the officials found wanting.

“The impact of irregular spend and wasted funds on education and health is literally a matter of life and death, as money for schoolbooks, medicines, teachers and healthcare workers is lost.

“We are particularly disappointed that provincial departments that have blamed budget shortfalls for failure to deliver services are at the top of the AG’s list of delinquent departments.

“These include the KwaZulu-Natal departments of education and transport, which are claiming in court papers this week that they cannot afford to provide transport to school for learners in the province who need it,” McLaren said.

He added that as Finance Minister Tito Mboweni presents his Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement tomorrow, he needed to implement measures that would assist departments perform better.

“Austerity will only limit access to healthcare and crucial social services further, and put the quality and pace of education, transport, water, energy and other reforms at risk,” McLaren pointed out.

He said the Cabinet had to find a way to invest in the financial and human capacity of departments to work with greater efficiency and effectiveness. “Parliament must begin to fulfil its oversight role as envisaged in the Constitution,” McLaren said.

Political Bureau