Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu has raised concerns about how his team faced threats and intimidation while conducting their audit work in different municipalities throughout the country.
Releasing the 2017/2018 municipal audit results in Pretoria on Wednesday, Makwetu said the team faced difficulties and that the audit environment became more "hostile with increased contestation of audit findings and pushbacks whereby our audit processes and the motives of our audit teams were questioned".
He said in some of the municipalities pressure was placed on audit teams to change conclusions in order to avoid negative audit outcomes or the disclosure of irregular expenditure.
"Instances of threats to and intimidation of our auditors were also experienced in most of the provinces," he said.
Makwetu also lambasted municipalities for not responding to the audit recommendations. The AGSA said some municipalities have also not implemented the programmes initiated by treasuries and cooperative governance departments to influence positive audit outcomes and service delivery initiatives.
Makwetu said leaders should set the tone for accountability and if "audit outcomes are not desired, energy should rather be directed at addressing the system relapses identified instead of coercing the auditors to change their conclusions".
Makwetu highlighted major contributions to the accountability failures and regression in audit outcomes. He said leadership, senior management and officials failed to monitor effective systems and processes of internal control.
"Where there is no accountability, municipality struggle or fail to meet their objectives. This in turn adversely affects the citizens who rely on municipalities for their service delivery," he said.
The AGSA reported that 34% of municipalities couldn't balance their books, recording expenditure which exceeded their income - with the total deficit for these municipalities amounting to R5.8bn.
The AGSA also reported that the financial woes of local government also "weighed heavily" on municipal creditors.
"The impact of this inability to pay creditors was most evident in the huge sums owed for the provision of electricity and water to Eskom and the water boards, respectively."