Welcome to the Mpumalanga Provincial Government

Address by Hon. Premier DD Mabuza at the Launch of Provincial Operation Clean Audit, Mbombela Local Municipality

08 December 2009

Members of the Provincial Executive Council,
Executive Mayors and Mayors,
Members of Legislature and Councils,
Acting Director-General,
Head of Departments,
CEO of Public Entities,
Members of Media Houses,
Ladies and gentlemen,

On Friday last week, the 4th of December 2009, at about 18H30, the whole world had a particular focus on us as a country.  The football fraternity converged in Cape Town, South Africa to witness the final draw for the FIFA 2010 World Cup. 

Any doubts about our capability as country and people to host such big international events were finally laid to rest.  As a province, we are ready to welcome the world to our shores. 

We are prepared to share our heritage, our beautiful tourist attractions, our foot balling prowess and our unparalleled hospitality and Ubuntu.

Today the province is launching the Operation Clean audit 2014.  This launch is of particular significance to the Province and municipalities as it forms an integral part of our commitment to good governance and improved service delivery at both local and provincial levels of government

Operation Clean Audit 2014, which I am launching here today for the Mpumalanga Province is an important milestone for deepening democracy and strengthening good and accountable governance. 

As most of you would know, Operation Clean Audit 2014 was launched on 16 July 2009 by the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, in a national event that was attended by Parliament, Provincial Legislatures, Premiers, MECs, HoDs, the Private Sector and a number of senior government officials.

The goal is of Operation Clean Audit is to ensure that by 2011, no municipality or provincial government department will have a disclaimer or an adverse audit opinion.  By 2014 no department or municipality should have a disclaimer, negative audit opinion or a qualified audit.

As a Province, we are committed to strengthening organizational capacities for financial management, information management and the implementation of control systems within public institutions. It is critical that we improve accountability and the quality of our financial statements.

Programme Director, it is encouraging that we are witnessing incremental improvements in the quality of audit outcomes. 

Some provincial departments, municipalities and all the public entities are beginning to turn the corner.   The number of our institutions with unqualified audits is increasing. In some cases where we had adverse opinions and disclaimers, at least, we now have qualified audits.

There is no doubt that we still have hard to achieve the objectives of Operation Clean Audit. There is no room for complacency.

Despite improvements that we have registered, the Auditor-General's reports continue to reveal ineffectiveness with respect to internal control environments, poor performance and absence of management systems in critical areas.  This has negatively impacted on service delivery, good governance and accountability. 

To improve our audit outcomes, it is critical that our institutions attract and retain requisite skills in planning, budgeting and public financial management.

Operation Clean Audit 2014 has a set of non-negotiable milestones that we must achieve as a Province:
  • Between 2010 and 2011, no municipality and provincial departments will receive Adverse and Disclaimer Audit opinions.
  • At least 60% of provincial departments and the 283 municipalities must achieve unqualified audit opinion by 2012.
  • By 2013, there must be an increase to 75% both in municipalities and provincial departments that achieve unqualified audits.
  • By 2014, we must have 100% of  ‘clean audits’, both at provincial departments and all municipalities

This is a call to everyone to get set to deliver on these miles. Work begins now.

We are cognizant of the fact that we need to improve the state of our local government sphere of government to enhance our audit performance. Inadequate financial and administrative systems and poor leadership seem to be at core of governance challenges facing local government.

A number of assessments have been done with regard to the state of local government.  The reports are indicating that there are good practices at the local government level but these good practices are easily overshadowed by a range of problems and challenges that are placing the local government system in distress. 

There are serious governance challenges in many municipalities. Administrations of many municipalities are not functioning properly. Finances of many municipalities are not in good shape. Many municipalities are unable to deliver some of the basic services.

Ineffective financial management and a collapse of financial management systems and processes in many municipalities lie at the heart of the low confidence in municipalities expressed by communities and the general public.

Our inability to collect revenue as required by law is not happening due to various reasons like poor billing systems, level of indigence, poor service delivery and limited tax revenue options,

This situation has to be arrested urgently.  As a Province, we have a mammoth task of finding ways to strengthen institutional capacity through skills acquisition and development. 

The strengthening of the procurement systems and controls at municipalities will be fast tracked by the Provincial Treasury, including the implementation of anti-corruption strategies.  We need political leadership and oversight at all levels to ensure the targets of Operation Clean Audit are realized.    

We need to ensure that internal audit unit functions are in place to add value overall organizational risk management and improvement internal control systems. It is essential to strengthen the oversight role of external audit committees to ensure our institutions improve financial management capacities.

Those who are receiving certificates of recognition and appointment as ambassadors for Operation Clean Audit 2014 should serve to inspire others to reach such accolades whilst the recipients should not regress.

Today I urge all MECs, Mayors, Municipal Managers, CEOs of Public entities and Provincial Heads of Departments to lead the path and ensure that, by 2014, we meet all the objectives of Operation Clean Audit.

It is possible. Let the work begin.

Thank You.

Issued by the Office of the Premier, Mpumalanga Provincial Government

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