AG says public institutions recorded improved audit outcomes

Auditor-General Tsakani Maluleke. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi Independent Newspapers

Auditor-General Tsakani Maluleke. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi Independent Newspapers

Published Nov 29, 2023


Auditor-General Tsakani Maluleke said on Wednesday there was an overall improvement in the audit outcomes of departments and public entities that were audited in 2022-23.

“On the whole there is a very good performance on audit outcomes through the Public Finance Management Act cycle with improvements that are visible right across the provincial and national sphere of government,” Maluleke said.

Briefing the standing committee, Maluleke said her office completed 418 audits in the 2022-23 audit cycle boasting a R3.1-trillion budget.

She said the number of clean audits increased significantly during the period under review.

“It is useful to see at least 35% of auditees achieved clean audit. It is commendable 110 of them have sustained clean audit of the past year. Fifty-three have clean audit over the past four years.”

Maluleke also said the audit performance indicated that the public institutions maintained quality systems of transparency and accountability.

“They are able to put their financials together, able to put performance reports that are reliable and credible and have discipline to ensure they operate within the rule of law,” she said.

Maluleke said there were fewer public institutions that obtained qualified, adverse and disclaimer audit opinions.

“This trend of improvement has been coming over the past four years.”

She noted that the only blemish was the 31 public institutions that have outstanding audits as at end of September.

“Of the 26 audits we reported as outstanding in our previous general report – either because the auditees had submitted their financial statements late or not at all, or because of delays encountered during the audit process – 12 had still not been completed at the time of this report, while the 2022-23 audits of another 19 auditees were also outstanding.”

Maluleke said the matter of outstanding audits should get the attention it deserves.

According to her report, the seven institutions that had delays during audit process included Denel, Denel Vehicle Systems, Limpopo Department of Health, and Agricultural Land Holding Account.

The three that submitted their financial statements late included Alexkor, Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa and Taletso TVET College.

Those that have not submitted financial statement are SAA, North West Transport Investments Group, Denel Aerostructures, Coastal TVET College, Compensation Fund, National Student Financial Aid Scheme and the Unemployment Insurance Fund.

Maluleke said the law was clear on the need for accounting officers and accounting authorities to submit the financial statements on time.

She said the audits should end up in legislature or Parliament to be scrutinised and ensure there was accountability.

“When there is lateness on a repeated basis it starts to comprise transparency and accountability in a way that should worry us all.”

Maluleke also said each of the provinces had over the last four years improved their audit outcomes.

“(There was) significant improvement in the Eastern Cape where there is a high number of clean audits at 12. We are calling for them to be sustained and be translate to bigger budget department such as education and health.”

Free State recorded more unqualified audits, Gauteng had significant improvement in clean audit as was the case in KwaZulu-Natal.

The Western Cape remained at the top with 18 clean audits.

Parliament and eight provincial legislatures obtained clean audits with the exception of North West, which attained unqualified audit with findings.

“It is crucial that every single legislature attains clean audit. They can speak with authority when exercising oversight on departments and entities,” Maluleke said.

Maluleke added that of the 19 state-owned entities (SOEs), only the Development Bank of Southern Africa obtained clean audit opinion.

Two SOEs obtained qualified audit opinion, two others attained disclaimer audits, 10 had unqualified audit with findings and four had outstanding audits.

Cape Times