PRETORIA-- South African Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu has reported that while there are municipalities in some provinces which are burning the midnight oil to get good audit outcomes, the overall municipal audit results have deteriorated.

Releasing the consolidated report on the local government audit outcomes for the financial year 2016/17 here Wednesday, he added that despite his office's constant and insistent advice and caution to accounting officers since 2013, their advice had fallen on deaf ears.

"When we released the 2011/12 municipal audit outcomes in August 2013, we highlighted, among others, a lack of decisive leadership to address the lack of accountability by ensuring consequences against those who flouted basic processes that hampered effective municipal governance," he recalled.

We reported weaknesses in internal control and the risks that needed attention in local government by providing root causes for audit findings and recommendations to remedy these underlying causes. It is now five years later, and we are still faced with the same accountability and governance challenges we had flagged throughout these years."

Five years on, the same governance and accountability issues which were flagged throughout the years still persist. There has been no significant positive change towards credible results. Instead, we are witnessing a reversal in audit outcomes," Makwetu said.

While there are municipalities in some provinces which are diligently working hard to attain and maintain the desirable audit outcomes through an entrenched culture of accountability and decisive leadership, those outcomes and efforts are overshadowed by the many elements of regressions in the local government audit outcomes, he said.

Makwetu said his office audited 257 municipalities and 21 municipal entities. Out of all the municipalities which were audited, the audit outcomes of 45 regressed while those of 16 improved. Only 33 municipalities, or 13 per cent, managed to produce quality financial statements, as well as complied with all key legislation and as a result, received clean audits, the Auditor General said.

This is down from the 48 municipalities that obtained clean audits in the 2015/16 financial year. However, 112 municipalities received unqualified audits with findings for the year under review, an increase from 108 unqualified audits with findings in the previous year.