Parliament has unanimously passed a bill that strengthens the powers of the Auditor General. It will enable him to directly refer fraud, corruption and collusion within government departments and entities to relevant law enforcement authorities.

Up to now, the Auditor General has had no powers to deal directly with any of the malfeasance except to refer them to relevant departments for further action.

The screws are now tightening. The Public Audit Amendment Bill is not only empowering the Auditor General to press criminal charges against the culprits, but to recover state losses, even from individuals concerned.

Parliament heard that the rot within state departments was such that certain officials even attempted to bribe auditors to cover up their corrupt activities.

Chairperson of Standing Committee on Auditor-General Vincent Smith says:”It is incumbent upon this parliament to condemn all those who attempt to bribe, so that they do their job without fear or favour.”

Last week, the Auditor General disclosed that South African Airways (SAA) had a net loss of R5.6 billion in the 2016 and 2017 financial year.

While opposition parties supported the Bill, they also pointed fingers at the ruling party.

The bill will now be referred to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) for its approval, before President Cyril Ramaphosa signs it into law.

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