OUTA calls on Auditor-General to exercise powers
Following the Auditor General’s (AG) report on the national and provincial government audit outcomes for 2018/2019, OUTA finds the worsening situation of the financial mismanagement of our taxes unacceptable and disgraceful.
We cannot stand by and watch the growing demise of the financial affairs of numerous government departments, under the very leadership we have entrusted with the management of the country. What makes matters worse is that this disgraceful situation worsens every year, with virtually no accountability against those responsible for this mess.
“Why should society be burdened with even a single qualified audit from our Government departments, let alone 90 out of 256 audit outcomes, or 35%,” says Wayne Duvenage, OUTA’s CEO. “These are the departments and authorities that need to be held to the highest performance standards when it comes to financial management.”
The AG says in his report that there are “serious weaknesses in the financial management of national and provincial departments, which had not been addressed over the past five years,” and that “R62,6bn is attributed to irregular expenditure, which is up 23% on last years R51bn.”
The lack of stern, stringent corrective action by government leadership to address this diabolical situation, is indicative of a government that is comfortable with the decline. This clearly shows that government treats its citizens and taxpayers with contempt. This is the very reason why there are growing calls from the public for a tax revolt and why people are taking as much money off-shore, evading taxes wherever possible.
OUTA calls on the AG to exercise his recently increased powers within the Public Audit Act (PAA) to go far beyond the reporting of the many material irregularities his office uncovers. We would like to see the AG proceed with instructions to public bodies to investigate and drive the implementation of recommendations to rectify the situation quickly. In addition, the AG should exercise its powers to issue certificates of debt, in order to recover lost money from the accounting officers and authorities who are responsible for these transgressions.
Unless those responsible for this mess are held accountable and feel the pain of their transgressions, we will see no improvement in the management of our country’s service delivery to the people or its financial affairs. “It is precisely this lack of accountability on such serious matters that will lead to a failed state, and society must do everything it can do to prevent from happening,” adds Duvenage.
We need to see a substantive improvement in government competence and leadership that does not tolerate mediocrity. Taking action and disciplining, firing and jailing people who waste or corruptly abuse state funds requires basic leadership courage, which appears to be largely absent in government today.
We also call on President Ramaphosa to exercise leadership and provide society with confidence that this dire situation of mismanagement will no longer be tolerated, by clearly communicating what urgent and meaningful action will be forthcoming.