University of Venda blames auditors for AG’s negative finding against it
Univen says its auditors failed to review the information given to them due to time limitations.
Auditors failed to review information provided to them by the University of Venda (Univen), leading to the Auditor-General of South Africa (Agsa), Tsakani Maluleke’s negative finding against it, the university’s spokesperson, Takalani Dzaga, said.
Dzaga was responding to Daily Maverick following the Agsa report that was tabled in the parliamentary portfolio committee on higher education on 11 October.
The report stated that Univen’s reported achievements on predetermined objectives in the 2021/22 and 2022/23 financial years were not supported by accurate and reliable information.
It further stated that the reported achievements did not align with what was initially planned.
The university obtained an unqualified audit outcome with findings in 2022/23.
The same finding was also made by Agsa against Tshwane University of Technology, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University and Sol Plaatje University.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Eight of SA’s 26 public universities fail to get clean audits
Dzaga confirmed the Agsa’s findings on predetermined objectives. However, he said the university management had developed an improvement action plan, which was regularly monitored by an internal audit.
“More clarity has also been provided on the technical indicator descriptions for the 2024 academic year to allow for efficient and effective collection of performance data and proper verification processes,” Dzaga said.
He said the university had submitted accurate and reliable information to support the reported performance information but it was not properly reviewed by the auditors due to time limitations and the misinterpretation of indicators.
Agsa spokesperson Africa Boso said the findings were highlights made to the parliamentary committee as part of the Budget Review and Recommendations Report process. He said the Agsa could only comment on Univen’s claims after the report was released next month.
“The consolidated general report on national and provincial government (and entities) will be released on 29 November,” said Boso.
Dzaga said the university’s management was making concerted efforts to address any deficiencies in the integration of planning and reporting processes.
These efforts, he said, included the establishment of a Strategy Monitoring and Evaluation Department with the capacity to develop and implement an integrated framework for improving performance monitoring, reporting and evaluation processes.
Dzaga said the unqualified audit outcome that the university received did not solely rely on the performance reporting on predetermined objectives.
He said it mainly took into account the annual financial statements, which were fairly presented in accordance with accounting standards and the International Financial Reporting Standards. DM
AGSA clarifies its report on university audits
Daily Maverick articles contain misrepresentation on audit of public universities
The articles published by Daily Maverick titled “Eight of SA’s 26 public universities fail to get clean audits” and “University of Venda blames auditors for AG’s negative finding against it”, published on 26 and 30 October, respectively, reflect a misrepresentation of the facts. The articles are based on the presentation by Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA) on 11 October in Parliament about the audit outcomes of higher education.
In the presentation, which was part of the Budget Review and Recommendations Reports process, the AGSA includes the audits of universities and clearly states that these audits are “not audited by AGSA”. In fact, the AGSA does not audit any of the universities in South Africa, including the University of Venda; each of these institutions appoints its own auditors in line with the Public Audit Act (PAA).
Section 4(3) of the PAA states that the AGSA may audit certain institutions and may also opt not to conduct these audits. The Act further states, in line with section 4(3) and in terms of PAA regulation 4(2), that if the AGSA opts not to conduct the audit of an institution, the institution must, through a public procurement process and in line with its supply chain management policy and procedures, select a registered auditor in private practice that is affiliated to the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors.
The AGSA has never audited universities due to resource constraints, however we have been in the process of taking back some of the section 4(3) auditees. AGSA has over the years successfully taken over some state-owned entities and all TVET colleges. We have not taken over the auditing of universities.
Once the appropriate auditors have been selected, the university would seek consent from the AGSA for the appointment of the recommended auditors. If the AGSA grants consent for the appointment of the auditors, the entity can finalise the appointment, and the audit process can commence.
The appointed auditors will proceed with the audit by gaining an understanding of the business, performing the necessary audit procedures in accordance with the firm’s audit methodology, conclude the audit and issue an audit opinion. This is done independently from the AGSA.
Therefore, the AGSA’s involvement would only include the consideration of the auditors’ appointment or dismissal, including recommending certain conditions that would promote the independence of the auditors.
The presentation to Parliament on the audit outcomes for South African universities was a consolidation of the audit opinions reached by the independent auditors of these universities and did not include findings or conclusions by the AGSA.
The AGSA continues to take its constitutional mandate very seriously and conduct all its audits in line with the PAA and international auditing standards.