Kimi Makwetu
AUDITOR-GENERAL Kimi Makwetu has painted a grim picture on the state of national and provincial departments with irregular expenditure soaring to R51billion.

But Makwetu warned that the R51bn did not include the irregular expenditure of R28.4bn in state-owned entities.

He said the situation would be more dire once he had included other SOEs. Out of the total of R51bn in irregular expenditure, R23.6bn was from 10 departments nationally and in the Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and North West.

Makwetu said the top 10 departments responsible for this were the Department of Transport in KwaZulu-Natal, with irregular expenditure of R5.4bn; followed by Water Trading Entity at R4.5bn; and the Department of Roads and Transport in Gauteng at R2bn.

Makwetu stated in his report that the reason for the irregular expenditure was departments flouting the tender process leading to the increase in irregular expenditure.

He said other departments responsible for irregular expenditure were Water and Sanitation at R1.9bn; Correctional Services at R1.8bn; and the Department of Health in KwaZulu-Natal at R1.8bn. Irregular expenditure in the Department of Health in Gauteng was at R1.7bn.

Makwetu said they hoped to turn the corner and clamp down on those behind irregular expenditure with the new law now in place.

The acting chairperson of the standing committee on the auditor-general, Nthabiseng Khunou, said they would now finalise regulations on the Public Audit Act after it was signed into law by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Khunou said they wanted Parliament to adopt the regulations in the next two weeks in time for the auditor-general to get more powers to deal with corruption.

The new powers would allow the AG to penalise officials behind irregular expenditure. This is a departure from the past where officials had failed to act on his recommendations.

Makwetu said they would meet with directors-general to explain how the new law would work. They had met the DGs before the law was passed by Parliament, and they would meet again.

“We are yet to engage further now it’s been signed into law so we will get to the nub of the matter. We will do this with the boards of state-owned entities at the beginning of next year to alert them to the issues in the regulations.”

The SABC and other SOEs were in serious trouble. Some needed serious cash from the government to stay afloat, Makwetu said.