CAPE TOWN, Nov. 9 (Xinhua) -- South African lawmakers on Friday called for political will and leadership to curb a worrying trend of threats against auditors.
"We are cognizant of the pressure that these threats are going to have on recruitment of capable individuals within the audit environment. Hence the need to arrest the growing trend," said Nthabiseng Khunou, chairperson of Parliament's Standing Committee on the Auditor-General.
A number of auditors across the country have received intimidation and even death threats, making it increasingly difficult for them to perform their work in some municipalities allegedly involving in irregular activities. This has prompted Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu to seek help from lawmakers.
In a letter submitted to Parliament last month, Makwetu said the instances of threats deserve national attention as they not only pose a threat to the life and limb of innocent auditing professionals, but also put the broader public interest at risk.
On Friday, lawmakers engaged with Makwetu, the South African Police Service and the national Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs to find workable solutions to this trend.
Participants resolved that there is need for a proactive security action plan, particularly considering that municipal audits are being finalized, Khunou said.
The proactive security planning is necessary if the implementation of the recently passed Public Audit Amendment Bill is to be effective, she said.
"But above all, there is a need for strong political leadership at all levels of government to stop these threats," Khunou said.
Auditors must at all times be protected and an enabling environment must be created, as their work is central to ensuring delivery of services and prudent spending of taxpayers' resources, she said.
Khunou urged employees at the Office of the Auditor-General to speedily lodge complaints in cases of intimidation and where threats are made, to enable the police to act swiftly.
Furthermore, auditees must improve security for audit teams, she said.