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Yes, irregular spending by South Africa’s DA-led Western Cape government up R21 million in 2018

Irregular expenditure by the government of South Africa’s Western Cape province rose from R23 million in the 2016/17 financial year to R44 million in 2017/18 – an increase of R21 million. So says an article on from October 2018.

The Western Cape is the only one of South Africa’s nine provinces governed by the Democratic Alliance, the official opposition party. The other eight are governed by the African National Congress, which also leads the national government.

The article was posted on Facebook. In March 2019 a user flagged it as potentially false – a feature of the social network’s third-party fact-checking programme.

So Africa Check had a look at the data.

What is irregular expenditure?

The auditor-general examines the finances of – or audits – South Africa’s government. “We audit every department and some of the public entities in the country,” the AG says in its consolidated report for 2017/18.

The AG defines “irregular expenditure” as spending “not incurred in the manner prescribed by legislation... somewhere in the process that led to the expenditure, the auditee did not comply with the applicable legislation”.

It adds: “Such expenditure does not necessarily mean that money had been wasted or that fraud had been committed.”

So it’s different from “fruitless and wasteful expenditure” – spending “made in vain” that “could have been avoided had reasonable care been taken”. It’s also not “unauthorised expenditure”, or money spent “without provision having been made for it in the approved budget”.

Yes, irregular spending up – but 83% of audits ‘clean’

The AG’s 2017/18 report on the finances of national and provincial governments supports the article’s claim about irregular spending.

The Western Cape provincial snapshot shows its government laid out R44 million in irregular expenditure in 2017/18, up from R23 million in 2016/17. This is an increase of R21 million, or roughly 95%.

“Non-compliance related to procurement and contract management contributed 99% of the total irregular expenditure,” the report says.

But the AG does say the Western Cape – and Gauteng province – “continued to produce the best results” in 2017/18.

Fifteen (83%) of the province’s 19 government entities had clean or unqualified audits, as did 12 (52%) of Gauteng’s 23 government entities. – Mary Alexander (06/02/19)


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