HARARE – The Auditor-General (AG) has expressed grave concern over the handling of road construction funds by the ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development and the Infrastructural Development Bank of Zimbabwe (IDBZ).
In her latest report tabled in the National Assembly on October 31, AG Mildred Chiri raised alarm that there was no clear reporting structure for funds held by IDBZ, which acts as the project manager for road construction projects undertaken by the ministry of Transport.
She noted that while the roads construction budget of $20 590 000, which was transferred from Treasury for onward transmission to IDBZ, was fully disclosed in the Appropriation Account as expenditure, only $2 104 612 had been utilised by IDBZ as at December 31, 2017.
“There was no system in place to keep track of how much money would have been disbursed or spent by IDBZ on road construction projects before further transfers were done to the bank,” she said.
Chiri also noted slow progress in the utilisation of road construction project funds released by Treasury.
“Funds released for the construction of the Hwedza-Sadza, Bindura-Shamva, Mvurwi-Kanyemba, and Harare-Mutare amounting to $14 445 000 were not utilised as projects had not commenced as at December 31, 2017,” the report reads.
Chiri also noted that IDBZ bank statements showed that payments amounting to $5 million were made to the Zimbabwe National Road Agency (Zinara) without authorisation.
In response, the ministry of Transport said “the bank was authorised by Treasury to transfer the amount to Zinara which was meant for emergency road rehabilitation programmes that were being carried out by local authorities. However, the amount was later reimbursed by Zinara.”
Chiri was not convinced.
“The finding referred to payments that were made without compiling payment vouchers. The response did not address this issue,” she said.
Chiri also noted that the ministry’s commitment registers reflected $13 054 962 for seven projects whereas IDBZ bank statement for the same projects had accumulated an expenditure of $16 419 277 — a variance of $3 364 315.
She also noted that funds released for the construction of Harare-Bulawayo road amounting to $238 462 were diverted to fund new Parliament road construction, Chegutu-Chinhoyi to Slurry and Mupfure bridge.
“This was done through raising requisitions in the names of the three projects to make it appear that they had procured road construction materials whereas this was not the correct position,” she said.
In its defence, which was dismissed by Chiri, the ministry said the new Parliament project, according to the provincial road engineer, borrowed Harare-Gweru dualisation project materials since there were delays in the delivery of the new Parliament materials.