Picture: 123RF/KRITSANA LAROQUE
Picture: 123RF/KRITSANA LAROQUE

The audit results recently released by the auditor-general, Kimi Makwethu, show a stark contrast between the performance of the Western Cape and all other provinces across SA.

For instance, 79% of Western Cape departments received clean audits compared to the next best province, Gauteng, with 30% clean audits; and the worst performing, the Free State, with 0% clean audits.

Here it is also noteworthy that the Western Cape department of health received a clean audit for the first time, which is also the first time that any provincial department of health has received a clean audit in the country.

Of the R1.37bn unauthorised expenditure incurred by the provinces, no unauthorised expenditure emanated from the Western Cape. The Western Cape incurred only R154,000 worth of fruitless and wasteful expenditure, compared to R898,000 in the Northern Cape and, the worst performing, Free State, with R144m.

Turning to irregular expenditure, the Western Cape incurred only R33m compared to R609m in the Northern Cape and the worst performing, KwaZulu-Natal, with R12.4bn.

A simple multiplication exercise also provides insightful perspective into the strong performance by the Western Cape. On the far end of the spectrum you have KwaZulu-Natal, which incurred 327 times more irregular expenditure than the Western Cape; and not too far behind that Gauteng, which incurred 214 times more irregular expenditure. The Free State incurred 937 times more fruitless and wasteful expenditure than the Western Cape and, again, Gauteng, which incurred 732 times more fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

The question is how did we achieve such outstanding audit results in the Western Cape, and how do we continue to do so year after year? 

Provincial treasury’s mandate as per section 18(1) of the The Public Finance Management Act is to “promote and enforce transparency and effective management in respect of revenue, expenditure, assets and liabilities of provincial departments and provincial public entities”.

To this end, we conduct assessments of departments and entities on budgetary matters, supply chain, asset management and accounting with departments and entities reporting to provincial treasury on irregular, unauthorised, fruitless and wasteful expenditure as part of their monthly in-year-monitoring reports.

We hold quarterly engagement sessions with departments to discuss all issues emanating from these reports. We have developed governance support plans to assist departments and entities to close the governance gaps and improve fiscal responsibility.

We have established CFO, supply chain management, financial and management accounting forums. We issue delegation frameworks. We provide continual analysis and guidance of regulations and instructions, and we have workshopped the draft versions of the irregular, unauthorised, fruitless and wasteful expenditure frameworks to ensure there is a consistent understanding in the province, together with a standard way of evaluating, monitoring and reporting on irregular expenditure in the Western Cape.

By institutionalising these measures it is clear how the Western Cape has become the top performing province when it comes to managing irregular, unauthorised, and fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

These audit outcomes reflect a continued effort to not only prioritise good governance, but also to constantly seek to improve the way we manage provincial finances. The excellent work of those working in our provincial treasury should be applauded and learnt from across SA.

We are proud to have maintained our reputation as the best performing province and we will continue to work hard for those living in the Western Cape.

• Maynier is the DA provincial minister of finance and economic opportunities.