Govt rapped over audits

via Govt rapped over audits | The Herald June 30, 2015 by Fidelis Munyoro

THE executive is failing to act on national audit reports that expose gross abuse of public funds in State enterprises and Government departments to the detriment of efforts to turnaround the economy in line with Zim-Asset.

Every year, the Auditor-General’s office publishes and presents audit reports highlighting gross mismanagement of public funds and poor corporate governance tenets.

In an interview yesterday, Auditor-General Mrs Mildred Chiri said Government ministries should act on the findings of audit reports to arrest corruption and mismanagement in various state institutions.

“The ministries should initiate action against those who break the law,” said Mrs Chiri.

“We tell them of our findings and the ministries’ permanent secretaries have a responsibility to take action against their subordinates. Of course, there are agencies that look at our reports and legally where there are findings pointing to reasons for prosecution to also act.”

Mrs Chiri said the new Constitution provided for the Auditor-General to “order the taking of measures to rectify any defects in the management and safeguarding of the public funds and public property…”

This, she said, was done through their audit reports highlighting defective areas in which the affected state institutions could take action.

“We are giving them enough information for them to go and rectify on defects through the recommendations we give after each finding,” she said.

Mrs Chiri said the audit reports were also sent to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Public Accounts for deliberation and to come up with its recommendations.

Clerk of Parliament Mr Kennedy Chokuda said it was up to the executive to take the initiative in dealing with the findings of Parliamentary Committees.

“Parliamentary committees make recommendations and it is up to the executive to implement them,” said Mr Chokuda.

Attorney General Advocate Prince Machaya, said he was unable to comment on the audit reports that he had not seen.

“My duty is to advice Government,” said Adv Machaya adding, “I have not been around. I flew in the country on Saturday evening from Angola, where I was attending a Kimberly Process’ diamond conference.”

Prosecutor-General Mr Johannes Tomana, who now speaks through his personal assistant a Ms Mwedzi, said his duty was to enforce the law, not to give a legal opinion on matters that may end up in his office for prosecution.

There are calls for Government to ensure expeditious prosecution of all public officials exposed by the audit reports with legislators being urged to play a leading role as people’s representatives to ensure the implementation of the Auditor-General’s recommendations.

This comes against the background of recent revelations by the Auditor-General’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.

The ugly state of affairs in the State enterprises comes at time Government is working to turn around the economy as they are integral to the mega-deals signed between Government and China recently.

Publishing audit reports will remain a pointless struggle for the majestic office of the Auditor-General if it is not empowered to raise charges against those who violet the law.