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AG Tsakani Maluleke says she cannot complete audits by due date because of Covid-19

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Auditor-General Tsakani Maluleke

Auditor-General Tsakani Maluleke told Parliament the delays by her office to complete the auditing of national and provincial departments last month, was due to Covid-19.

This was revealed in a letter she wrote to former National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise late last month.
The legislated due date for the submission of audit reports is July 31 annually, with national and provincial departments having submitted their financial statements for auditing by May 31.

Malukele said owing to the challenges of auditing under the Covid-19 circumstances, her office was unable to meet the statutory deadline this year.

“This is mainly due to the significant impact of the rise in infections during the third wave of the pandemic and the recent unrest and protest action in some provinces at a time when we should have been finalising our audits.
However, we do not wish to compromise on the application of the required diligence and care during our audit process,” she said.

Maluleke explained that they anticipated that some audits would be signed off by August 31 and some even later, instead of July 31 as legislated.

“We are endeavouring to sign off the mentioned audit reports as soon as possible so as not to negatively affect the oversight processes,” she said. Maluleke’s office has already notified affected departments and entities, prompting them to notify Parliament about the pending non-compliance.

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane is among those who have wasted no time in notifying Parliament. Mkhwebane’s office confirmed that the 2020/21 audit report would be issued by next month.

“The PPSA therefore commits to tabling its annual report for 2020/21 to the National Assembly no later than 15 September 2021,” Mkhwebane wrote in her letter dated August 5.

Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Minister Barbara Creecy has also followed suit, explaining the reasons for the delay in the submission of the annual report of the department and some of their entities.

Creecy explained that her department complied and submitted its financial statements by May 31, and that Maluleke had on June 30 informed them of a delay in finalising the audit owing to various factors.

She also said the year 2020 had been a challenging one as the department could not operate at 100% capacity due to Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

“The number of Covid-positive cases, in particular front-line staff working with the AG at the DFFE in Cape Town and Pretoria, has directly impacted on the audit in that we lost a number of days as the offices had to be closed or staff from the DFFE and AG had to go into self-isolation,” she said.

Creecy also said Maluleke was unable to finalise audited financial statements of the South African National Parks, iSimangaliso Wetland Park and the Marine Living Resources Fund.

Sport, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa has also informed Parliament that his department received a notification from Maluleke alerting the national department and some of its public entities of the delays in finalising the audit process.

Mthethwa said his department and 13 entities would not be able to table their annual reports within the prescribed time frame.

Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi also wrote, saying that Maluleke had informed the director-general of her office’s inability to conclude the audit report within the prescribed two-month period owing to some challenges linked to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Source: IOL

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