The Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, today, 15 August 2019 held a meeting with the Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA), Mr Kimi MAkwethu. This important meeting was also attended Deputy Ministers Obed Bapela and Deputy Minister Parks Tau.
The meeting looked at a number of issues that relates to the CoGTA portfolio and noted improved Audit outcomes.
The meeting also discussed the perennial challenges that continue to confront the CoGTA portfolio, especially as it relates to the disclaimer received by the Department of Cooperative Governance (DCoG) for two conservative years and the poor performance of municipalities across the country.
Even though there is improvement in the audit outcomes within the portfolio, over five years period, the AG lamented challenges within the DCoG which received disclaimers since 2016/17. The AG mentioned a number of key challenges that have to be addressed to ensure that DCoG is able to receive better and improved audit report. He recommended tighter internal controls, compliance with legislation, the implementation of the previous AGSA recommendations, adequate record keeping, monitoring across the department, contract and asset management controls within CWP, as some of the key issues that have to be addressed to set DCoG on the right path.
The meeting also looked at the implementation of outcome 9 of the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF), which talks to efficient and effective functioning local government. The AG raised the issue of some municipalities which continue to experience challenges and requiring interventions through the Back to Basics (B2B) programme.
The AG identified 48 municipalities requiring special intervention from national and provincial role players to improve their audit outcomes.
The worst performing municipalities in each province were selected based on their history over 3 years of:
-A Disclaimed or adverse audit opinions or poor financial health assessment, or
-Unauthorised, irregular and fruitless and wasteful expenditure
To ensure an improved, efficient and effective functioning local government, the AGSA recommended the following:
-Comprehensive review of the of the MTSF achievements which should include root causes analysis for non-achievement and lack of impact.
-Review customised indicators across the sector for both national and provincial CoGTA and ensure that they drive the desired impact.
-Clearly define the type of support needed to be rolled out across the sector with clear timelines and have clear roles and responsibilities between national and provincial CoGTA.
-Coordinate with National and Provincial Treasuries to ensure that there is no overlapping roles and responsibilities and there is clear coordination effort to drive the desire impact.
The meeting noted that there are number of issues that impact the audit process and delay the finalisation of audit outcomes:
-pressures placed on auditors to change their conclusions to avoid negative audit outcomes or disclosure of irregularities,
-protest actions in municipalities, and
-non-implementation of audit recommendations
Minister Dlamini Zuma and the AG agreed to work together to address these issues, including the increasingly difficult environment within which auditors are doing their work due to increased levels of intimidation and threats towards auditors The Minister called on all municipalities to ensure that the AGSA officials are given the support they deserve so as to be able to perfom their work without fear or favour.
“It is important to set clear targets to ensure that we respond positively to the challenges within the portfolio, bearing in mind the expectations from South Africans to have effective functioning municipalities that deliver services as expected”, said Minister Dlamini Zuma.