His Excellency Deputy President of the Republic Kgalema Motlanthe
Honourable Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, MJ Mahlangu
Honourable Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan
Honourable Minister of Public Service and Administration Lindiwe Sisulu
Honourable Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly NomaIndiya Mfeketo
Honourable Deputy Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces Mrs TC Memela
Honourable Deputy Minister of Science and Technology and former chairperson of the AG Advocate Mike Masutha
Honourable Leaders of Political Parties
Chairpersons of Institutions Supporting Democracy
Good afternoon to you all.
It is my pleasure to welcome everyone, and especially our honoured guests, Mr Terence Mncedisi Nombembe, and his wife, Mrs Nokwanda Nombembe, to Parliament today.
We are gathered, to bid a fond farewell to the Auditor- General or the AG as he is affectionately known. A soft spoken, gentle, a thorough Auditor-General, committed to his profession, who has set the highest standards for good and accountable governance and professionalism.
The Auditor General's departure gives us reason to pause and to reflect on his remarkable achievements over the last 13 years. All of us here will agree that the AG, during his tenure, has carried out his constitutional mandate with distinction and without any fear or favour. Even Parliament has not escaped his reprimand, caution, or attention to detail on occasion.
What I have come to appreciate about the AG the most though is the energy, the passion and the constructive approach with which he reports on issues of governance and financial management in the public sector.
This approach is illustrated in your comments AG Nombembe when you assumed the position of Auditor General in 2006 and I quote: "Public sector audits go beyond merely expressing an opinion on the financial statements. When we audit the public sector, we also comment on the effectiveness of key management processes and give feedback on compliance with laws and regulations.
"We have to report in a manner that enables Parliament and the executive to account for how they deal with taxpayers' money and is our contribution to service delivery."
We could not agree more with that view. All of us are in agreement that the AG has used his role to influence and promote a positive tone throughout government.
The AG has also shown that he has a great capacity to explain and teach. It seems to me that the ordinary person understands him much better than they do policymakers and politicians. One of the changes Terence introduced was the packaging of relevant and easy to understand audit messages.
I have also come to learn from many far and wide that Terence has been very generous with his time and has been willing to travel across the country to communicate the root causes of qualified audits, poor performance and lack of key administrative controls.
The AG has worked tirelessly with local government travelling to all 283 municipalities in the country to discuss his findings and his recommendations. This I am sure has by no means been easy to do and to Terence's family we say, thank you, for your understanding. This determination was largely due to his unwavering belief that, and I quote again: "It is possible for all public sector departments and entities to achieve clean audit."
The AG has also shown remarkable capacity for analysis and intellectual rigor. He has mastered the skill of asking the right questions, and has an extraordinary understanding of the complexities of our developmental environment and the challenges which our government has to address. The release of the seminal report on the state of municipalities is such a case in point.
Over the years, the AG has also made a remarkable contribution on the international stage.
He has played an influential role as chairperson of the International Organisation Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI), the United Nations Board of Auditors and as president of the African Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (AFROSAI) to ensure that stakeholders recognise the value and the contribution of Supreme Audit Institutions towards the enhancement of public sector accountability.
The final contribution which I wish to touch on is the AG's unwavering focus on the long term interest of our country, by setting up programmes that unearths and grooms young chartered accountants and financial managers to work in the public sector and to assist in managing our country's public resources more effectively. This is an excellent initiative that requires our support. We hope that you will continue to lend your expertise to this initiative AG Nombembe.
Auditor- General Terence Nombembe has patiently and steadfastly shown us the value of integrity, good and clean governance and accountability. Of course, the AG has not solved all the problems prevalent in the public sector, there will be many puzzles and many issues for his successor Mr Kim Makwetu to grapple with. We are however confident that he will measure up to the task. Together with his team, Terence Nombembe has laid a solid foundation from which those who continue his good work can draw inspiration.
As we go forward in the next few months let us continue to remember the importance of deep analysis and intellectual clarity. We should be aware of the political winds but look to ride them rather than be driven by them. We should also remember our own responsibilities towards good and accountable governance, and the importance of always acting in the best interests of the people of our country.
To conclude, on a lighter note, Terence, I have reliably learnt that you combine both your talents for teaching Sunday school with dancing and that perhaps a stint on the hit show "strictly come dancing" is on the cards. I promise to vote for you.
We wish you well in your future endeavours. We trust that you will continue to serve our nation as you have done with such dedication and distinction during your term as Auditor-General.
I also wish to thank you for the support that you have provided to the South African Legislative Sector (SALS).
Thank you very much!
ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENT OF THE RSA