Going for green: The pursuit of a clean audit outcome

A clean audit doesn’t guarantee good service delivery, but it is a good start

By Gemma Ritchie
Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Image: DALL·E/OpenAI

  • Only 9 of South Africa’s 257 municipalities have consistently received clean audits for at least 7 years
  • The number of clean audits has dropped from 41 to 38, with only 2 of 8 metros achieving ‘green’
  • The West Coast municipality has received a clean audit every year for the past 12 years, whereas Joe Morolong and Madibeng have received the worst audit opinion 7 years in a row

In the past 12 years, only nine municipalities of South Africa’s 257 have had clean audit opinions every year for at least seven years.

Audit opinions, which are issued by the auditor-general, hold municipalities accountable for the transparent reporting of their financial situation and help stakeholders make decisions. A clean audit, for example, is one free of material errors, omissions and misstatements. There are five different audit opinions – here are the definitions.

​​One municipality that has received a clean audit every year for the past 12 years is the West Coast District Municipality.

West Coast municipal manager David Joubert says good audit outcomes ‘have a direct impact on the evaluation and assessment of an entity’s credit rating’.

A municipal manager works with political office bearers and administrative staff to reach a municipality’s strategic objectives and goals. 

‘It gives prospective investors confidence to invest in a particular region or sector where sound corporate governance is critical within the institution,’ says Joubert.

Read more

What 12 years of clean audits mean for the West Coast District municipality

The two municipalities that have scored the worst audit opinion (a disclaimed audit) every year for the past seven years are Joe Morolong in the Northern Cape and Madibeng in the North West.

The financial statements of these two municipalities have been deemed so unreliable that they have had no decent documentation for decision-making processes for almost a decade. 

The rest of the country

Only 15 municipalities received the worst audit opinion in 2021/22 compared with 26 in the previous financial year. However, fewer got clean audits – 38 compared with 41.

Life in SA’s metros

More than 40% of the population lives in metropolitan municipalities, but only two of the country’s eight metros received a clean audit. 

  • Cape Town got its first clean audit in six years
  • Ekurhuleni in Gauteng is the only other metro to get a clean audit this year

A clean audit may not guarantee good service delivery, but it is a good start. 

The auditor-general Tsakani Maluleke pins the lack of clean metro audits on ‘instability in key positions, as well as inadequate monitoring and review of controls relating to compliance’.

Check out our updated audit tool to find out how the auditor-general has rated your municipality since 2010

The Outlier Local Government focuses on issues in Johannesburg. Sign up to receive the next edition of our newsletter