As the Standing Committee on the Auditor-General, we have recently taken note of a number of instances of intimidation of and threats against staff of the Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA), while they were executing their duties during recent months, and more specifically during the current audits of municipalities for the 2016-17 financial period.

The AGSA has already shared with us the specific examples and audit sites where these threats are prevalent.

These reports come shortly on the heels of similar reports raised by Auditor-General Mr Kimi Makwetu in his 2016-17 general report on the accounts of departments and public entities, where he made clear reference to the contestation of audit findings, as well as cases of personal threats and intimidation affecting his staff.

As the Committee that has been charged by Parliament to, amongst other things, oversee and protect the reputation and functioning of the AGSA, we want to express our shock about these incidents. The AGSA has a constitutional mandate to audit the accounts of government without fear, favour or prejudice, and to comment on the strength of government’s financial and performance management. For that matter, the Constitution clearly prohibits any person or organ of state from interfering with the functioning of the Auditor-General or his office.

The Committee condemns these incidents of threats and intimidation in the strongest possible terms. The independent and strong functioning of the AGSA is a key element of oversight on behalf of and assurance to the public of South Africa. Accordingly, this office should be allowed to execute its functions unhindered and with free access to all necessary evidence.

We call on everybody involved with public sector audits, political and administrative, as well as people doing business with government, to desist from creating any obstacle to the functioning of the AGSA and from threatening or intimidating staff of that office.

Source: Parliament of the Republic of South Africa

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