Auditor-General slams rise in contestation of audit findings

AG Kimi Makwetu says he’s noted a disturbing trend in which lawyers are brought in when departments & entities contest some findings.

FILE: Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu. Picture: AGSA.

CAPE TOWN - Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu has red-flagged an increasing tendency by some national and provincial departments to go to court to contest audit findings, especially around the procurement of goods and services.

Makwetu was briefing Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts on national and provincial audit outcomes for the past financial year.

He’s told MPs that in one case, the Auditor-General’s Office incurred significant costs in defending an action.

It’s normal for departments and entities to contest some findings when their books are audited. But Makwetu says he’s noted a disturbing trend in which lawyers are brought in.

“We’re worried about this because it starts going beyond reasonable levels of contestation when it comes to (an auditee) having been taken on over some issues of supply chain non-compliance.”

Makwetu says involving lawyers, or going to court, strains relations between state audit teams and those whose accounts are being scrutinised, and also racks up costs.

“The effect of this is not only costly to them, it is also costly to us because in order for us to contest what is put on the table as a pushback we also have to engage equally competent people, who are unfortunately sometimes senior counsel.”

Makwetu says his office will release details in a comprehensive report to be issued later this month.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)