Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu must be a happy but very exhausted man. He has finally managed to get the teeth for his office to do something about the widespread noncompliance and corruption in local government. But he must be exhausted about the bad news he is expected to deliver annually. His "messengers", usually armed with spreadsheets and calculators, may now need armed escorts. On the first page of the executive summary of his latest report on local government, he laid bare the stress his colleagues faced: "… pressure was placed on audit teams to change conclusions purely to avoid negative audit outcomes … without sufficient grounds." This pressure is a diversionary tactic by local officials who are unwilling to confront a basic reality — in the absence of an overhaul of their "business processes", their municipalities are not assured of survival. There’s just too much debt to collect, too few creditors paid on time and too little by way of executed controls to keep those eyein...

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