via ‘Auditor-General’s Office fuelling rot at public enterprises’ February 19, 2014 by Veneranda Langa NewsDay
THE Audit Office Workers’ Union has blamed the Office of the Auditor-General for fuelling the current rot at public enterprises by failing to conduct regular spot checks.
Addressing delegates attending an anti-corruption discussion forum in Harare last Thursday, the union’s president Michael Makuchete said the Auditor-General was supposed to keep heads of parastatals under check through regular audits to avoid abuse of public resources.
“The Audit Office Act stipulates audits of government ministries, mainline and quasi-government institutions like parastatals and even local authorities rest with the Auditor General’s Office, but audit of local authorities was last done three years ago,” Makuchete said.
“Our main worry is that in the context of Salarygate, the Auditor-General Mildred Chiri was privy to those salaries, minutes of board meetings and accounting information, but she did not act even if she has been Auditor-General for the past 10 years,” he said.
Makuchete added: “This could point to inefficiency or corruption because audits are carried out yearly and generally. The buck stops with this office and it did not act. Auditing is a science and salary issues at ZBC, where workers went for months without pay, could have been detected by the AG’s Office. The Air Zimbabwe fraud could also have been highlighted by the Auditor-General’s Office, but it was private auditors who did it.”
“She (Chiri) should use the Audit Office Act to make heads of government institutions and parastatals hand over to her office books of accounts for auditing. We need an Auditor-General’s Office that has prosecuting powers like the South African situation. The Auditor-General should also be vastly experienced as a chartered accountant because this portfolio is very important because if not properly attended to, the country might bleed to death,” he said.
Makuchete said it was sad the Auditor-General’s Office no longer had clout as compared to the 1990s when it had teeth and corrupt officials resigned while some committed suicide for fear of arrest.
“We do not remember anyone who has gone to court in recent years because of these audit reports, and it means government must awaken as it has been compromised,” he said.
Chiri was unavailable for comment and at the time of going to print she had not responded to questions e-mailed to her.