South Africa: The Auditor General's Report On the National Treasury Is Disgraceful and Scandalous

press release

The Congress of South African Trade Unions has noted with disappointment and alarm that according to the Auditor-General of South Africa, the National Treasury has incurred R249 million in irregular expenditure and failed to comply with guidelines and financial regulations. The report points out that no effective steps were taken to prevent the fruitless and wasteful expenditure, and this was caused by noncompliance with supply chain management and contract management processes.

According to AG Tsakani Maluleka, the R66 million in fruitless and wasteful expenditure was caused by the department's delay in implementing the Integrated Financial Management System.

The failure to submit financial statements and Treasury's annual report on time reflects an uninterested attitude and an intolerable deterioration that should not be allowed to continue unchallenged. The taxpayers and the people of South Africa deserve better.

It is staggering and frightening that the people who are entrusted with managing the national resources are flouting processes and failing to comply with financial regulations and procedures.

Instead of dealing with this mismanagement of resources, the National Treasury has been busy preaching about zero budgeting, and implementing cuts in public spending, leading to massive reduction in all aspects of social and economic benefits to the people, in wages, retirement benefits and pensions.

These government austerity measures have greatly affected the poor who are more depended on government services the most.

It is scandalous that the same organisation with the ethical responsibility to see to it that the public money is used for its designated purposes and spent within guidelines of existing legislation across the state is receiving a less than clean audit from the Auditor General.

Public servants are being threatened with wage freezes and workers with an increase in taxes while decision-makers responsible for this mess continue to flout the rules and undermine processes.

This failure to comply is self-indulgent and disgraceful when the economy is on its knees and so many poor people are living lives of brute survival.

COSATU reiterates its call for legal consequences for all those who flout the rules and fail to comply with the country's laws. This country needs a massive drive to enforce the laws against irregular and unauthorised spending and corruption. Those responsible for this mess should be censured and the guilty should be held accountable.

The AG should use the Public Audit Act to pursue and censure all those officials responsible for irregular expenditure. The country also needs to develop processes that will encourage and protect the whistle-blowers who are risking their lives to expose corruption and mismanagement.

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