Recent revelations have shed light on South Africa’s government departments that have exhibited the worst overspending tendencies. As Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana prepares for the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) on November 1, 2023, he must grapple with the fact that several national departments have engaged in unauthorized spending, exceeding R18.5 billion since 2005.
Thirteen different departments have been implicated in unauthorized spending since 2005, according to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts. Leading the list of culprits is the Department of Social Development (DSD), with a substantial sum of R15.1 billion attributed to the declaration of a National State of Disaster during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and the implementation of the contentious SASSA SRD grants.
The Department of Transport is the next significant offender, with an overspending of R1.34 billion recorded between 2013 and 2016. This overspending was linked to the e-NATIS online portal, encompassing development, operation, and maintenance costs. The funds for e-NATIS were supposed to be collected by the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), but due to service provider issues, no payments were made since 2012.
Another noteworthy entry among the worst overspenders is the Department of Water and Sanitation, exceeding its budget by R686 million. This overspending was primarily associated with the bucket-eradication program and the ‘war on leaks’ and has been attributed to “weak governance and internal control” within the department.
Stats SA follows with an overspending amount of R120 million, despite facing budget cuts. Lastly, the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) is responsible for an overspend of R3.7 million, related to the state funeral of former President Nelson Mandela in 2013/2014. The recovery of funds from these departments can be achieved through budget cuts or charges against the National Revenue Fund. According to South Africa’s financial laws, overspending of this nature cannot be ignored and must be recovered. These revelations shed light on the need for improved financial management within South African government departments to ensure fiscal responsibility and prevent unauthorized overspending in the future.