Auditees in the national and provincial spheres of government play a key role in delivering services, driving overall government programmes (including those affecting local government), and overseeing a significant portion of the public purse.

National and provincial departments are also closely interconnected and play an important role in achieving the vision outlined in the National Development Plan of eliminating poverty and reducing inequality by 2030 through, for example, raising employment through faster economic growth; improving the quality of education; and building state capability in areas such as infrastructure, environmental sustainability, health and community safety.

The Auditor-General of South Africa is the supreme audit institution of South Africa. As such, we have a constitutional mandate to audit and report on the activities of government across all levels. As a chapter 9 institution, we have a role to play in strengthening our constitutional democracy, which aims to improve the quality of life of all South Africans. In undertaking this critical work in line with the Public Audit Act, we audit financial statements, compliance with relevant legislation, and performance information against strategic and performance plans of auditees.

As an institution, we are implementing a new culture shift strategy which aspires to influence all auditees towards improving audit outcomes, governance and financial management. Through this strategy, we have committed to provide strategic and informative insights that will enable government to take the right decisions and make a meaningful impact in the lives of citizens.

Through our culture shift strategy, we hope to ignite commitment and action from all roleplayers in the accountability ecosystem. Action that will ensure that everyone gets involved to resolve weaknesses in our government institutions; improve governance and accountability; and ultimately enable good financial and performance management, compliance with legislation, and service delivery. We contribute to improvements in accountability and service delivery by sharing our insights widely, making recommendations and advocating for commitments by leadership at all levels of government to play their part.

In this general report

This report reflects on the audit outcomes of national and provincial government and presents our observations and insights from the audits of the financial year ended 31 March 2022. It includes information, statistics, insights and stories on the audit outcomes and state of departments and public entities, with a particular focus on key service delivery portfolios and state-owned enterprises.

While we continue to reflect on similar matters to those covered in our past reports, we also take an in-depth look at performance information and its impact on service delivery. The insights in this report aim to show the impact government can have on service delivery if it focuses on certain critical areas.

In this report, we again reference the accountability ecosystem, which is made up of all roleplayers in national and provincial government that have a part to play in enabling a culture of performance, accountability, transparency and integrity. This includes the Auditor-General of South Africa as the country’s supreme audit institution, as well as the people of South Africa.

We are committed to doing our part to instil a culture of performance, accountability, transparency and integrity in national and provincial government, which will ultimately result in a better life for the people of South Africa. Only through accountability and enforcement, can we build public trust in government. Service delivery improvements and the responsible use of the limited funds available will only be enabled by capable, cooperative, accountable and responsive institutions delivering on their mandates. That is why the theme of this general report is A culture of accountability will improve service delivery.

We also highlight the progress we have made in implementing our enhanced mandate. This report includes an overview of on the material irregularities identified, the progress leadership has made in resolving them, and the instances where we had to apply our enforcement powers because of inaction. Although still at an early stage, the impact of our expanded mandate can be seen through the amount of attention given to our audit process and outcomes, action being taken to address our findings, and, in some cases, financial losses being recovered or even prevented from occurring.

You can get more information on these material irregularities in our material irregularity report.

In this report, we also reintroduce the plan-do-check-act process used in previous general reports.

Achieving the goals and objectives included in government’s long-term National Development Plan and medium-term strategic plans to improve the lives of the people of South Africa (IMPACT) requires a systematic and well-coordinated process of planning (PLAN), disciplined implementation (DO), effective progress monitoring and evaluation (CHECK), and corrective action where delivery does not take place as planned (ACT).

On this website

On this website, we summarise our key messages on the state of national and provincial government over the first three years of the sixth administration’s term, covering:

We also report on the state of provincial government in each of the nine provinces, and include a call to action for all roleplayers to activate the accountability ecosystem by reporting on our recommendations and the commitments made in response.

You can download detailed annexures that provide the key results per department and public entity, as well as our latest material irregularity report.

A report for all roleplayers

The success of national and provincial government rests on the ability of the whole accountability ecosystem to work together – for all roleplayers to not simply operate within their silos, but function collaboratively with an awareness of how their respective roles influence and affect each other.

This report is therefore directed at all of these roleplayers, further summarising the insights and recommendations we have already shared with them for further action. We remain encouraged by the commitments they have made to improve the state of national and provincial government, and we will continue to monitor and report on the implementation, effectiveness and impact of these commitments over the term of the administration.

But this report is not intended for only the leaders of national and provincial government. We all have a responsibility to improve the performance of our public institutions – demands for services, economic hardship and a shrinking public purse clearly indicate that we need to do things differently. This is not the responsibility of government alone – all of us as South Africans must demand prudence, good governance and accountability.

We hope that the insights in this report will motivate you to be an active participant in the accountability ecosystem.

What is the accountability ecosystem?


The accountability ecosystem refers to the network of stakeholders that have a mandate and/or responsibility, whether legislative or moral, to drive, deepen and/or insist on public sector accountability. Read more

Responsibilities for managing government spending

Ultimately, accounting officers and authorities are responsible and answerable for the finances and performance of auditees for the benefit of all South Africans.

Audit committees and internal audit units play an important role in providing an independent view of the effectiveness of auditee controls and processes, while legislation requires coordinating institutions to support auditees by enforcing good financial management and overseeing performance budgeting, planning and monitoring.

Our role is to audit and report on what we have found, and to share our insights to empower the collective accountability ecosystem to address weaknesses, strengthen transparency, and enable accountability – ultimately improving governance and service delivery. This is especially significant if we consider that national and provincial auditees were responsible for an estimated expenditure budget of R2,58 trillion in 2021-22. It is not merely a matter of compliance for us, but a genuine effort to ensure improvement and enforce accountability where it is lacking.

As part of our reporting, we inform executive authorities as well as Parliament and the provincial legislatures of the quality of the financial statements and performance reports, the status of compliance with key legislation, and any material irregularities we identified during our audits. We do this as they are key roleplayers in providing oversight and in-year monitoring. They also use the financial statements and performance reports to determine whether auditees have used their budgets as intended to achieve service delivery objectives and to assess the impact on the lived experiences of South Africans.

Finally, the people of South Africa also have a role to play. Active citizenry is crucial for holding national and provincial leadership accountable – we all have a responsibility to improve the performance of our public institutions and we must demand prudence, good governance and accountability.

Current state of national and provincial government

In the third year of the current administration, we continue to see a gradual upward trend in the audit outcomes of national and provincial government. However, key service delivery portfolios and state-owned enterprises continue to receive poor audit outcomes.

Through our expanded mandate, we have enriched our insights and strengthened our ability to influence and enforce accountability and consequence management. There has been a shift at departments and public entities from a slow response to our findings and recommendations over the years to attention now being paid to material irregularities. Auditees are taking action to resolve these by recovering losses, preventing further losses and harm through strengthening internal controls, and effecting consequences for transgressions. However, greater impact will be achieved if accounting officers and authorities resolve the material irregularities more swiftly. We continue to advocate for investment in good preventative controls, as preventing material irregularities is more effective than having to deal with the consequences.

Poor overall performance leads to poor service delivery – to the detriment of the people of South Africa. Much of this can be attributed to poor planning, insufficient intergovernmental coordination, execution without oversight, and lack of accountability for effective reporting and the achievement of planned service delivery.

Over the past few years, we have highlighted the internal control deficiencies that led to government not deriving value from its spending because of inefficient and ineffective infrastructure delivery. Infrastructure continues to deteriorate because it is not properly maintained and protected against vandalism. This slows down service delivery and results in funds being wasted, which places further pressure on the fiscus (public purse). Auditees have not heeded our call to address these deficiencies, and infrastructure projects continue to face the same delivery challenges.

We have also seen little improvement in the area of financial management, despite consistently reporting the same deficiencies. Non-compliance with legislation remains high, resulting in unfair and uncompetitive procurement processes and payments for goods and services not received. These are also the areas where the risk of fraud is highest, hence it is necessary for a culture of compliance and respect for the law to be re-enforced.

When government is not careful in its spending practices, it reduces the already limited funds available. Claims against departments, overspending of budgets and poor financial health further deplete the already stretched funds, while bailing out and signing guarantees to cover future obligations of ailing institutions such as state-owned enterprises place additional pressure on the fiscus.

This situation is made worse by the prevailing weaknesses in governance and accountability at national and provincial auditees, coupled with the slow implementation of key reforms that aim to strengthen the governance of state-owned enterprises. Coordinating institutions are key roleplayers in the accountability ecosystem, yet their actions and initiatives have had a limited impact on improving the state of government.

Impact on society

If government doesn’t properly manage its finances and performance, it may not be able to achieve the ideals set out in the National Development Plan, such as:

  • alleviating poverty
  • providing access to clean water and sanitation
  • improving the longevity of the people of South Africa
  • enhancing the quality of teaching and learning by providing education infrastructure
  • enabling decent employment
  • encouraging economic growth.

Government has also given guarantees for loans of over R420 billion, meaning it will pay the entities’ debts if they cannot, and several state-owned enterprises are at risk of defaulting on their debts. Entities with financial difficulties may not be able to deliver essential services – such as paying social relief grants, building and maintaining rail infrastructure, and supplying water – to South Africans.

Infrastructure projects that aren’t implemented effectively can be delayed, cost more, be of poor quality, or not be fully used – or used at all – when they are completed. This may lead to the expected return on investment not being realised, which places even more pressure on the public purse.

Government has multiple programmes and initiatives that aim to improve the lived reality of South Africans and address their concerns, including:

But these plans and great ambitions only have an impact if they are implemented successfully. If government does not address current weaknesses in financial, performance and infrastructure management, this will hamper the implementation of these programmes and initiatives.

Our call to action

A culture of performance, accountability, transparency and integrity should be a shared vision. We therefore urge all roleplayers in the accountability ecosystem to fulfil their designated roles and play their part effectively and without fear or favour to ensure accountability for government spending and improvement in the lives of all South Africans.

Specifically, we recommend that leadership and oversight:

  • refocus and energise performance planning processes to be comprehensive and aligned to auditees’ mandates and the Medium-Term Strategic Framework to ensure that service delivery is planned for and reported on
  • ensure that vacancies are filled by appointing capable officials, and ensure stability in key positions that will enable accountability
  • maintain a robust financial management culture, which includes ensuring effective revenue collection, prudent spending, and preventing or swiftly recovering financial loss and waste
  • enable and insist on in-year monitoring controls and project management disciplines to achieve planned service delivery on time, within budget and at the required quality
  • lead by example and ensure that there are consequences in place for non-compliance with legislation and accountability failures to enable improved performance and service delivery.

We remain committed to partnering with and supporting the public sector through our audits, the Public Audit Act amendments, and the many initiatives we have implemented to assist and guide all roleplayers. We trust that the insights and recommendations in this report will be of value in this pursuit.

Other areas we report on

Through our audits, we also do work on areas that can contribute significantly to the success of an auditee, such as financial health, infrastructure development and maintenance, the control environment (including information technology controls), procurement and contract management, consequence management and aspects of environmental management.

We recently introduced real-time audits as well – with one of the first focusing on the financial management of government’s covid-19 initiatives, which culminated in a special report tabled on 30 June 2021.

Through our expanded mandate, and the ensuing material irregularities in particular, we have enriched our insights and strengthened our ability to influence and enforce performance, accountability, transparency and integrity in national and provincial government. In response to the material irregularities we identified, auditees are taking action to recover losses, prevent further losses and harm through strengthening internal controls, and implement consequences for transgressions. We do not hesitate to use our enforcement mandate if the relevant parties do not respond to the material irregularities with the required seriousness and urgency.