Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu, the man responsible for auditing government books, has raised concerns about irregular expenditure in local government, saying it remains high, even though it is lower than that in previous years.
During a media briefing in Pretoria on Wednesday, Makwetu said the irregular expenditure decreased from R29.7bn to R25bn after record highs in previous years.
Only 18 municipalities in the country managed to receive clean audits, Makwetu said. The municipalities managed to produce quality financial statements and performance reports and complied with all key legislation, he said.
However, he said unqualified opinions on the financial statements decreased from 61% to only 51%, adding that the quality of the financial statements provided to his office for auditing was even "worse than in the previous years".
Makwetu raised concerns about a lack of accountability as the cause of poor local government audit results.
He said accountability for financial and performance management continued to deteriorate.
While Makwetu's office made recommendations to local government leadership in 2018 to improve accountability and audit outcomes, there were no consequences for those who "flouted existing legislation".
The AG's office has previously called for local government leadership to effect consequences for transgressions and irregularities but these calls have not been headed.
"There are areas where we picked up that there was no proper supervision on projects, hence additional expenditure being incurred," he said.
He also said in provinces, such as the Free State and KwaZulu-Natal, political and administrative leadership "yet again" displayed no response to improving accountability for financial performance management.
He said that in the Free State, the leadership did not implement their recommendations to ensure stability and the filling of vacancies in key positions.
Turning to KwaZulu-Natal, Makwetu said: "We again identified and reported that the leadership, along with management, was slow to respond, or did not respond at all, to the early warning risk signals and recommendations that we regularly communicated during our engagements."