May 2000 probably marked the high point of South Africa’s new democratic dispensation. That was when the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) was implemented. As Ismail Momoniat told members of the finance select committee at the time, the intent was that accounting officers (in the public sector) take full responsibility for transactions authorised by them so as to maintain accountability at all levels.

It was an ambitious, advanced piece of legislation based on concepts developed in Canada and New Zealand. It represented the hopes and dreams of an entirely new form of government. For many of our new leaders, this was the embodiment of what they had fought for and it seemed not to matter that rolling it out would be tough...

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