The 2018/2019 Auditor-General’s (AG) report for the province of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) is indicative of a leadership which has failed to demand accountability and which does not ‘walk the talk’.
The findings, released yesterday by AG, Kimi Makwetu show that KZN has the highest irregular expenditure in the entire country – at R12.4billion – largely as a result of deviations from supply chain management. The figure, up 26% since 2017/18, is even higher than that of the national government while the province’s closing balance of R41.9billion is also the highest in the country.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) regards these figures as utterly dismal. They show a lack of political will on the part of the ANC-led executive when it comes to enforcing accountability and consequence management. This is further evidenced by the AG’s identification of ‘recurring trends’ within the province.
Premier Sihle Zikalala’s ‘war talk’ in the face of such shocking results is also little more than tired ANC rhetoric without any action. The reality is that nothing is going to change unless he stops being reactive and starts being proactive.
In fact, financial controls do not appear to be the Premier’s strong point. As MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, he presided over a Department which reported an underspend of R99.68 million during the last Close-Out Reports. This in a province ravaged by economic challenges and wide-spread unemployment.
The situation in the DA-led Western Cape could not be more different, with the province continuing to produce the best results, with 79% in clean audits and the lowest irregular expenditure and fruitless and wasteful expenditure. This was backed up by the AG’s comment that there had been a “solid and consistent pattern of good audit outcomes” which could be attributed to the provincial leadership and accounting officers and authorities “instilling a culture of accountability and good governance”.
The road to economic recovery in KZN begins with the creation of a capable state – one which is based on competency, accountability, consequence management and ultimately enforcing relevant legislation to achieve this. The DA in KZN has continually been at the forefront when it comes to insisting that the province will never progress without this. We now challenge Premier Zikalala to finally acknowledge this by ‘walking the talk’.