9 November 2018

South Africa: Political Will Needed to Safeguard AG Against Threats

Attacks on officials of the Auditor-General (AG) is a direct attack on the constitutional mandate of the office, the Standing Committee on the Auditor-General said on Friday.

In a statement, the committee said it was of the view that there was a need for political will and leadership if the worrying trend of threats against officials of the office of the AG was to be curtailed, and reiterated its strong condemnation of threats against AG officials.

On Friday, the committee engaged with the AG, police and the national Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs to find workable solutions to this trend.

Proactive security plan needed

The committee resolved that there was a need for a proactive security action plan, particularly considering that municipal audits were being finalised. But above all, there was a need for strong political leadership at all levels of government to stop the threats.

The proactive security planning is necessary if the implementation of the recently passed Public Audit Amendment Bill is to be effective.

"We are cognisant of the pressure that these threats are going to have on recruitment of capable individuals within the audit environment. Hence the need to arrest the growing trend," said committee chairperson Nthabiseng Khunou.

The committee welcomed progress in the investigations into the various cases that were reported to the police.

Good relations reestablished

The committee also welcomed the reestablishment of good relations between auditees and the AG where some of the threats were made, specifically in the Ethekwini, Msunduzi and Madibeng municipalities.

The AG must at all times be protected and an enabling environment must be created, as its work is central to ensuring delivery of services and prudent spending of taxpayers' resources.

The committee urged AG officials to speedily lodge complaints in cases of intimidation and where threats were made, to enable the police to act swiftly and it asked auditees to improve security for audit teams.

The constant contestations of preliminary audit findings by the AG has also been highlighted as a challenge that needs urgent attention, as it is a breeding ground for threats and intimidation.

Source: News24

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