Govt intensifies corruption fight

via Govt intensifies corruption fight | The Herald December 1, 2015

Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Reporter
Government has taken the first legal step in the fight against corruption and abuse of office in parastatals and State entities by amending the Public Finance Management Act.

If the amendments, which were gazetted under the Public Finance Management (Amendment) Bill, 2015 on Friday, were passed by Parliament, boards and management of parastatals would be made accountable to other authorities.

The amendments will ensure that recommendations by the Auditor-General’s Office are implemented in the fight against corruption and abuse of office in the parastatals and State entities.

Over the years, the Auditor-General’s Office has made recommendations on some parastatals that could not be implemented due to the absence of an enabling law.

Under the Bill, accounting officers in Government ministries will ensure that public entities or statutory funds have systems in place for planning, allocating, budgeting and reporting on the use of public resources and that public resources are safeguarded against loss.

The accounting officer will have powers to order an investigation to be conducted into the affairs of each such public entity or statutory fund.

Accounting authorities in parastatals would be asked to provide an explanation on an issue affecting the use of public resources.

The parastatals will also provide the relevant ministry with a projection of revenue, expenditure and borrowings for a financial year and an annual corporate plan covering its affairs, including its subsidiaries, for the following three financial years and such plan shall include targets, outputs and outcomes.

The Bill also seeks to amend Section 82 of the Act to ensure recommendations by the Auditor-General are complied with.

The Bill inserts a new section that undertakes the separation of roles of appropriate ministries and public entities.

Another new Section was inserted to spell out the provisions for preparation of financial statements for each quarter of the financial year.

Legal experts recently urged Government to ensure the expeditious prosecution of all public officials exposed by the Auditor-General of engaging in corruption, mismanagement of public funds and poor corporate governance.

This followed an annual presentation of audit reports by Auditor-General, Ms Mildred Chiri, to Parliament, but the culprits seem to get away without punishment.

The lawyers said it was the duty of the legislators as people’s representatives to ensure the implementation of the AG’s recommendations.

Their call come against the background of recent revelations by the AG’s Office that Government could have been prejudiced of hundreds of millions of dollars by mostly State enterprises, among them the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration, Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation and Environmental Management Agency, due to mismanagement and poor governance.

Corruption, analysts say, detracts from the noble goals of Zim-Asset, the country’s economic blue print.

Lawyer and former Cabinet minister Cde Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana said Parliament, through its portfolio committees, had the responsibility to scrutinise and recommend litigation against culprits.

Mr Chris Mhike of Atherstone and Cook said it was disheartening that the AG’s reports were largely ignored despite the fact that she was exercising her constitutional mandate.