Birds Eye View of the Port of Durban
Birds Eye View of the Port of Durban. Ojas Narappanawar/

Tsakani Maluleke, the auditor-general of South Africa (AGSA), has said that delays in infrastructure projects have often led to them costing more than originally planned.

Maluleke, who audited over 100 infrastructure projects in the last year, added that several of the delayed projects were of poor quality.

From 2022 to 2023, AGSA audited 137 infrastructure projects that focused on health facilities, schools, housing, roads and railways, water infrastructure and government buildings like police stations, Maluleke said.

"Our audit work incorporated numerous site visits by our multi-disciplinary audit teams, who applied their expertise to inspect project progress and quality. We reported findings on 112 (82%) of the projects that we visited. There are also delays in newly built infrastructure," she said, SA News reported.

She noted that when high-impact auditees did not manage their performance, finances and infrastructure properly, then it directly created a negative impact on the key government programs that were supposed to improve the lives and tough economic conditions of South Africans.

Maluleke pointed out that most of the maintenance work is only done when there is an emergency request, adding that very little time and money is spent on preventative maintenance.

"There are currently 2 394 unoccupied government properties, most of which have not been maintained and are in a bad state. Even though these properties are not used, costs such as property rates and taxes still need to be paid," she said.

"When there are not enough fit-for-use properties available to departments, the Property Management Trading Entity needs to enter into lease agreements – which could have been avoided if properties had been properly maintained."

According to Maluleke, the public works sector is responsible for maintaining all the government buildings, including health facilities, police stations and those structures that accommodate various government departments.

Aside from infrastructure projects, the AGSA also audited departments, public entities and state-owned entities and found that 193 high-impact auditees showed poorer audit outcomes compared to performance, financial and infrastructure management.

These departments, public entities and state-owned entities are responsible for R2.64 trillion, which is 85% of the total expenditure budget of the country.

"At a time of economic hardship in which the public's demands for service delivery and accountability are increasing, there is an expectation that national and provincial government will do everything in their power to get the most value from every rand spent and to manage every aspect of their finances with diligence and care," she said. "This is, however, not what we have seen at some departments and public entities during our audits."