Eastern Cape politicians believe that the target to have clean audits by nest year is a pipe dream.

They say there is “a generic” disregard of the laws and there have been no improvements in the financial management of provincial departments over te years.

Bhisho Legislature’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) last week again gave a grim picture of operations in the departments, saying there was a general disregard of the law.

Giving his committee’s overview of the departments’ audit outcomes, Scopa chair and UDM MPL Max Mhlathi said there were matters of serious concern in most departments.

Mhlathi said there was a complete failure by the provincial executive and departmental accounting officers to take action against government employees for non-compliance with laws and regulations.

No provincial departments were given a clean bill of health by Auditor-General Terence Nombembe in his latest audit probe, with Mhlathi saying members of the executive council (MECs) needed to ensure they were “hands-on” in the administration of their departments.

“There is a general disregard of compliance with the prescripts of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), treasury regulations and public service regulations, and this is evidenced by the continuous repetitive poor audit findings.

“There is a complete failure by the executing authorities and accounting officers to take action against civil servants for noncompliance with laws and regulations, incompetence and underperformance, as required in terms of the PFMA and Public Service Act, and that is the main contributors to these audit findings.”

He said accounting officers needed to take disciplinary action against officials for noncompliance and that the executive council must hold accounting officers accountable for failing to do so.

COPE MPL John Korkie said if the attitude of provincial officials did not change, “better life for all in the Eastern Cape remains a pipe dream”.

DA legislature leader Bobby Stevenson said irregularities in supply chain management were the root cause of corruption.

“Increasingly, there is growing frustration with the slow pace of service delivery in our province.

“The failure of the province to root out incompetence, mismanagement and corruption undermines our democracy and forces people to take to the streets,” Stevenson said.

Finance and planning MEC Phumulo Masualle ensured Mhlathi’s committee and the legislature that there would be consequences for bad management going forward and that provincial departments will do their utmost in addressing Scopa findings and recommendations. —