Fri. Jul 19th, 2019

Municipal audit for 2017-18: Here’s how each province performed

municipal audit reportKimi Makwetu expressed his deep concern with the regression of most municipalities’ financial performance.

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4c7bf580 audit 4190944 1920 - Municipal audit for 2017-18: Here’s how each province performed

Auditor-General (AG), Kimi Makwetu published the municipal audit report for the 2017-2018 financial year and right on the onset, things did not look good.

The overall results showed a steady decline in compliance and implementation of the AG’s recommendations from the previous financial year (2016-2017).

Although it was noted that irregular expenditure had decreased, it was equally alarming that only 8% of the 257 municipalities in South Africa registered clean audits, compared to 2016-17’s 14%.

Municipal audits: A snapshot of how bad things are

Makwetu raised serious concerns with the current state of our metros. Compared to the previous financial year, the outcomes of 63 municipalities regressed, while only 22 improved.

Of the 257 observed, only 18 municipalities managed to come out with “quality financial statements and performance reports, as well as complied with all key legislation, thereby receiving a clean audit.”

9f23ea5d snapshot - Municipal audit for 2017-18: Here’s how each province performed
Photo: AGSA

Makwetu also raised, with great concern, most municipalities’ inability to produce credible financial statements and performance reports.

“Not only did the unqualified opinions on the financial statements decrease from 61% to only 51%, but the quality of the financial statements provided to us for auditing was even worse than in the previous year. Only 19% of the municipalities could give us financial statements without material misstatements,” Makwetu said.

53930d87 snapshot 2 - Municipal audit for 2017-18: Here’s how each province performed
Photo: AGSA

The AG also raised concerns around the difficult environment most officials of his office were forced to work in. Makwetu noted that in some municipalities, officials used fearmongering tactics to try and sway auditors to produce changed outcomes.

“The audit environment became more hostile with increased contestation of audit findings and pushbacks whereby our audit processes and the motives of our audit teams were questioned.

“In some municipalities, pressure was placed on audit teams to change conclusions purely to avoid negative audit outcomes or the disclosure of irregular expenditure, without sufficient grounds. Instances of threats to and intimidation of our auditors were also experienced in most of the provinces,” he revealed.

Audit results for each province

This is how each province performed in the audit process:

Eastern Cape:

76% of municipalities in this province showed concerning financial health indicators and required intervention, a 10% increase from the previous financial year.

Only 5% of the municipalities registered clean audits, while 53% of them submitted financially unqualified financial statements.

8f9298a2 snapshot eastern cape - Municipal audit for 2017-18: Here’s how each province performed

However, the silver lining is that 96% of the province’s municipalities used the funds set aside by conditional grants for its intended purpose — infrastructure development.

Free State

This province, Makwetu noted, worried him the most. There were no clean audits registered for Free State.

14% of the municipalities that did comply with the audit process submitted financially unqualified statements, and not a single metro was found to be in compliance with legislation.

“The Free State local government environment displayed a total breakdown in internal controls as the province’s political and administrative leadership, yet again, exhibited no response to improve its accountability for financial and performance management.

“The leadership did not implement our recommendation to ensure stability and the filling of vacancies in key positions, despite their commitment to do so. This resulted in the significant deterioration of municipal audit outcomes, service delivery and financial health,” he explained.

054dc0fe snapshot free state - Municipal audit for 2017-18: Here’s how each province performed

Gauteng

The outcomes of Gauteng excluded Emfuleni since unrest in the municipal area prevented auditors from screening their books.

Midvaal is the only metro in the province that has sustained a clean audit outcome for a consecutive five-year period.

While the province registered 9% of clean audits, it commendably maintained its status as one of the few areas to score a 100% financially unqualified opinion.

c30b7479 snapshot gauteng - Municipal audit for 2017-18: Here’s how each province performed

KwaZulu-Natal

Even a revamped administration could do nothing to improve matters in KwaZulu-Natal. 14 municipalities regressed, while only five recorded improvements in their financial standing.

Only one metro registered a clean audit, and irregular expenditure increased from R2.3-million in the previous financial year, to R2.9-million.

966299bf snapshot kwazulu natal - Municipal audit for 2017-18: Here’s how each province performed

Limpopo

A slight improvement was seen in Limpopo, although, for the most part, this improvement “was consultant-driven rather than as a result of a concerted effort by the leadership to address internal control deficiencies.”

Not a single metro registered a clean audit and only 31% of them resulted in financially unqualified opinions.

a42e8684 snapshot limpopo - Municipal audit for 2017-18: Here’s how each province performed

Mpumalanga

Clean audits in Mpumalanga regressed from 10 in 2016-2017 to 5% in the observed financial year. Only one municipality registered an improvement, while nine showed signs of regression.

“Despite our strong message in the previous years, calling on both the local government and the provincial leadership to deal decisively with the accountability failures by stabilising local government (i.e. filling vacancies and capacitating local government) and implementing consequences for those who transgress governance laws, the province did not heed this message, resulting in these regressed audit results,” the AG noted.

a0125f47 snapshot mpumalanga - Municipal audit for 2017-18: Here’s how each province performed

Northern Cape

Not much has changed in the Northern Cape. Only 3% of the municipalities registered clean audits and even more shocking, irregular expenditure shot up from R283-million in 2016-2017 to R586-million.

8373a0f9 snapshot northern cape - Municipal audit for 2017-18: Here’s how each province performed

North West

This province is on a downward spiral. These were the sentiments shared by the AG who noted that none of the municipalities registered clean audits. Only 5% received financially unqualified opinions and irregular expenditure sat at a whopping R3.2-billion.

51dddb65 snapshot north west - Municipal audit for 2017-18: Here’s how each province performed

Western Cape

While the Western Cape registered the highest percentage of clean audits, it was a great concern that this decline by 30% compared to 2016-2017.

In this period, irregular expenditure shot up to R667-million, while only 43% of the metros were found to be in compliance with legislature.

“We have observed that the lapses in controls in certain municipalities in this province were largely non-adherence to statutory submission dates of financial statements for audit, non-adherence to supply chain requirements in confined areas already identified and actioned by management only after the audit,” the AG said.

dc2fc1d8 snapshot western cape - Municipal audit for 2017-18: Here’s how each province performed

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