The Auditor General’s (AG) Report on provincial government for the 2022/23 financial year paints a bleak picture of a provincial government incapable of holding officials accountable and unable to intervene in collapsing municipalities effectively.
The findings in relation to the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) were presented to the Eastern Cape Legislature earlier this week. While Premier Oscar Mabuyane has welcomed the results, the truth is our province is in deep trouble and in dire need of rescuing.
The provincial Department of Health has still not resolved its issues surrounding the keeping of medical records, resulting in the Department being unable to defend itself against litigation. Health is also the only department that failed to address material irregularities, requiring the AG to step in.
The AG also highlighted that only 21% of the 733 assessed clinics passed the ideal standard. The state of clinics in the OR Tambo district is so bad that they may not meet primary healthcare needs. A staggering 95% of clinics did not meet the minimal standard!
This reaffirms the Democratic Alliance’s stance that the Department of Health urgently needs to be placed under administration.
The state of Education is just as abysmal, with the AG flagging the R100 million infrastructure funding returned to the National Treasury.
Residents in small towns across the province are also on their own. COGTA was found to be severely lacking in support and implementation. In fact, the AG found that the Municipal Support Implementation Plans (MSIPs) for distressed and dysfunctional municipalities were not even discussed at year-end.
The disaster management unit, which should be playing a critical role across the province right now, was found to be ineffective.
The AG also called on the Provincial Treasury to design and implement monitoring processes to ensure that the municipalities implement their initiatives to improve their audit outcomes and enforce consequence management.
Overall, the AG found that transgressions are still occurring, even though the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) has been following up, making recommendations, and asking for evidence of consequence management.
There is insufficient monitoring of infrastructure projects and evidence of poor contract and project management.
The internal audit and audit committees have not had an impact, as recommendations are not implemented timeously.
Premier Mabuyane might be happy building a province where officials can waste public funds without ever being held accountable, but the DA expects more for our people and our province.
The DA will continue to fight for a capable, ethical professionalisation of the public service to rescue the Eastern Cape and South Africa.
This can only be achieved through embracing a meritocratic recruitment system that brings about high-quality staff in the public service with the aim of enhancing performance and provision of quality service delivery.