The proposed amendments to the Public Audit Act will ensure that dishonest and corrupt public officials are held accountable. Until now, a lack of accountability has been a major cause of fraud, corruption and misappropriation at public institutions.
One of the most important amendments concerns the definition of irregularities. The definition stipulates that it is non-compliance with or the violation of a law, fraud, theft or neglecting to do a legal duty which may lead to financial loss, loss of resources, damage to public institutions or damage to the general public.
This definition can also be used to describe what is wrong with most of our country’s municipalities. The amendment bill is, therefore, a step in the right direction to combat financial mismanagement.
If the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA) and the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) were properly implemented and enforced, though, these amendments would not have been necessary.
Unfortunately, political will is lacking and, therefore, the burden to take action against offenders is now needlessly placed on the shoulders of the Auditor-General (AG).
Section 32(7) of the MFMA stipulates that municipal councils must take all reasonable steps to ensure that cases of irregular expenditure that may constitute a criminal offence are reported to the police. This was not complied with.
Therefore, the amendment bill is not an achievement, but an accusation against the ANC who stood by and watched as laws were not complied with. There were also no consequences to bear for the non-compliance. It has caused fruitless and wasteful expenditure as well as corruption to become the norm.
Money is lost and there is no service delivery. The political will to comply with laws is lacking and the people of South Africa, who deserve proper service delivery, are let down.
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