On Tuesday‚ the National Assembly unanimously passed the Public Audit Amendment Bill‚ which seeks to give the office of the Auditor-General more teeth.
The Bill will now be referred to the National Council of Provinces for concurrence.
The new law will give the Auditor-General the power to refer adverse findings in its reports to investigative bodies‚ as well as recover funds from accounting officers lost due to non-adherence to the Public Finance Management Act.
ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu said the bill would go a long way in fighting corruption and holding officials tasked with oversight of government spending accountable.
Last week‚ following the publishing of the latest local government audit findings report‚ Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu suggested that the Bill would help halt the deterioration in municipal finances.
The report showed that only 33 of the country’s 257 municipalities received a clean audit in 2016-17‚ compared with 48 the year before. Irregular expenditure rose 75% to R28.4bn in 2016-17‚ up from R16.2bn the previous year.
Makwetu said repeated advice and warnings to accounting officers over the past five years had been ignored. Not only were municipalities failing to take action on the Auditor-General’s findings‚ but the environment in which auditing teams had to work had become steadily more hostile‚ with increased threats to staff‚ he said.