We are gearing for emerging challenges: Auditor-General

Source: We are gearing for emerging challenges: Auditor-General – NewsDay Zimbabwe

Auditor-general Midred Chiri

BY Mthandazo Nyoni
AUDITOR-GENERAL Mildred Chiri (MC) has produced numerous reports on government ministries, departments and agencies that have been tabled in Parliament. However, most of the public entities do not seem to be taking her recommendations seriously. To understand the impact of non-compliance, NewsDay (ND) Business reporter Mthandazo Nyoni caught up with Chiri during her media engagement workshop in Nyanga last week. ND: How has it been working as the Auditor-General (AG)? Have you faced any major challenges?

MC: Just like any job, there are ups and downs. But I sail through. My office does experience constraints in resources as any other government department due to the economic challenges facing the country.

ND: How has your office been managing given the economic constraints that you have just mentioned?

ND: We are facing financial constraints just like any MDA (ministry, department or agency), but we do get some subvention here and there to alleviate the situation.

ND: Does your office have sufficient skills given the flight of skills to greener pastures?

MC: We have sufficient skills to fulfil our statutory mandate. However, we need to build and develop further skills in forensic auditing and other emerging areas like extractive industries.

ND: There have been concerns over women being underrepresented in top leadership positions. What are your views on gender inclusivity in public institutions?

MC: Government is keen to have women representation in high echelons as enshrined in the Constitution and the Public Entities Governance Act. The President (Emmerson Mnangagwa) is on record desiring to elevate women. Women are being appointed to boards and other high positions. It is also my hope that this trend continues until the 50-50 mark is reached.

ND: You have made findings and produced reports that have been tabled in Parliament, but most of the public entities don’t seem to be taking your recommendations seriously. Is that not frustrating for you? What do you think should be done for them to adhere to your recommendations?

MC: My mandate is to audit all ministries, departments and agencies. My office will continue to carry out its mandate whether or not my recommendations are implemented. It’s discouraging when some recommendations are not heeded. However, we now see some noticeable improvement in the implementation of recommendations and this is heartening. MDAs do not necessarily have to implement my recommendations as suggested in my reports, but they should address the audit findings in whatever manner or method they find expedient. My recommendations are mere suggestions. For outstanding recommendations, what needs to be done is enforcement by superiors within the MDAs and outlining consequences for poor or inadequate performance.

ND: Does failure by the State-owned enterprises to adhere to your recommendations, not constitute violation of the law? If it does, what would you recommend should be done?

MC: Performance contracts have been signed by management of all MDAs and this is a measure of ensuring that work which includes audit recommendations, inter alia, will be addressed.

ND: Do you think Parliament is doing enough to ensure adherence to your findings and recommendations?

MC: The Public Accounts Committee always seeks oral evidence to get further elaborations on audit findings from MDAs. Parliament is doing its best to ensure adherence to my audit findings.

ND: I have never seen an audit report on the Zimbabwe National Army. Have you done any?

MC: If you dig through all our previous reports you will find them.

MN: What are your plans after your term of office ends?

MC: My tenure of office is governed by the Constitution of Zimbabwe and is two terms. I am in my second term. I am deciding on what to do next after I leave office.