President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER
President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER

President Cyril Ramaphosa says the deteriorating levels of accountability in municipalities is "concerning". 

Ramaphosa was responding on Wednesday to the municipal audit outcomes released by auditor-general Kimi Makwetu, which painted a dire picture of the state of finances in SA's municipalities. 

He said that in local government, as in all parts of the state, where systems fail there must be accountability.

Makwetu announced that only 18 municipalities of those audited had obtained clean audits, which amounted to only 8% of the total audits conducted in the 2017-2018 financial year.

SA's auditor-general lamented the decline in accountability in local government, which he said shows in indicators such as the regressed audit outcomes and the high irregular expenditure. The tide could be turned only if leaders in the different spheres of government took the lead in the drive towards a wholesale clean administration in the public sector.

Ramaphosa referred to local government as part of the government's seven priorities in his state of the nation address last week.

“The report released by the auditor-general about the deteriorating levels of accountability in our local government space is concerning,” Ramaphosa said. 

He said the government supported the call made by the SA Local Government Association “that we should professionalise local government and enhance the training of officials”.

He said through interventions such as the national clean audit task team under the Hawks, the government  was “serious about cleaning up our municipalities so they can fulfil  their primary mandate  —  not to adjudicate tenders, but to deliver services to our people”.

He said that if the lives of South Africans, particularly the poor, were to be improved “and if we are to foster economic development, we need to make local service delivery work.”