Of late, when engaging with any form of media in South Africa, one is guaranteed to come across a story relating to service delivery protests in at least one, if not many parts of the country. Citizens throughout the country have resorted to protesting as a way of voicing their dissatisfaction and anger at the lack of service delivery by local government. Local government is the sphere geographically situated nearest to the communities it serves, consisting of municipalities. During the protests communities mainly complain about the lack of basic services such as water, electricity, housing delivery, unemployment and sanitation. Various studies relating to service delivery have focused on the causes of the protests, analysed reams of statistics and have even suggested various “solutions” to these country-wide problems. Some authors see the protests as evidence of deficient or absent internal controls and governance principles, or a lack of will to apply those controls that are in place. These protests are occurring despite the South African Government having brought into effect legislation such as the Municipal Finance Management Act (56/2003), to strengthen the governance landscape of local government. A key component of this legislation is that it prescribes the mandatory employment of internal auditors and performance/audit committees to reinforce the governance system. Various studies have investigated either the lack of service delivery or the functioning of internal audit in the public sector. However, none of the researchers appears to have comprehensively studied whether internal auditors can assist management in local government to achieve their service delivery targets and thereby minimise the occurrence of service delivery protests. The objective of this study therefore, is to determine whether the performance of internal auditors' roles and responsibilities can reduce or minimise service delivery protests in municipalities. In order to achieve this, the study will amongst other aspects of the objective, identify the roles internal auditors are expected to fulfil in local government, as recorded in various statutes prescribed and the International Professional Practices Framework (Institute of Internal Auditors, (2016) (the “Standards”). The study will further determine the extent to which these roles are being performed; as well as to identify obstacles (if any) encountered by internal auditors when carrying out their roles. Most importantly the study will also determine whether internal audit can assist management to address challenges which often leads to inadequate service delivery. Through a review of the published literature the study determines the statutory and prescribed roles and responsibilities of the internal audit units in local government as presented by the Institute of Internal Auditors’ “Standards” and various items of South African legislation and regulations. The literature review also investigates the contribution made by a lack of controls to management’s failure to achieve their service delivery objectives. A sample of ten municipalities was selected for the study, and semi-structured interviews were conducted with key personnel at each municipality’s internal audit unit. Data collected during these interviews was analysed and findings were noted. It emerged from the study that internal audit does have a role to play in assisting management to achieve their objective of providing services to their respective communities; and that they are already playing this role.
Dissertation (MPhil)--University of Pretoria, 2017.