At the end of this month the auditor-general (AG) will release the latest annual report comparing and analysing municipal audit outcomes. Last year’s report showed just 13% of municipalities achieved clean audits for 2016/2017, so it may be tempting to conclude this work has failed to yield results. To the contrary, our research and a recent survey show these reports have increased media and public attention; can influence citizens’ assessment of local government and mayoral performance, and can affect voting behaviour. Last year, we worked with Citizen Surveys, the SA polling company, to assess the reach and relevance of the AG’s local government audits. Using the SA Citizen Survey, a unique monthly representative survey of public opinion, we fielded a series of questions related to municipal audits in the months that preceded and followed the publication of the AG’s report. The results, released now in full for the first time, reveal several striking facts. Overall, about one thir...

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