Govt to act on auditor-general reports

Source: Govt to act on auditor-general reports – DailyNews Live

Gift Phiri      8 February 2017

HARARE – Government claims it has started a process to take action over
damning expose’s of blatant theft of millions by ministers and other
government bureaucrats made in comptroller and auditor-general Mildred
Chiri’s reports.

This comes as Chiri has routinely issued adverse reports on abuse of
public funds, but they have gone largely ignored with no discernible
action taken against culprits.

Last year, the auditor-general’s report on Appropriation Accounts, State
Enterprises and Parastatals found 22 ministries out of a total 26 to have
abused funds as well as having flouted procurement procedures and
governance rules.

Finance minister, Patrick Chinamasa, said his handicap was that he did not
have the staff to comb through the voluminous auditor’s reports.

This was after Norton independent legislator Temba Mliswa called on
Parliament to bring the executive to order for grand scale theft of public
money which has deprived some of Zimbabwe’s poorest citizens of better
access to fundamental services such as health and education.

“If the auditor-general is clear in indicating that there is financial
indiscipline in the executive, why do we keep giving money to the very
same institutions which have been exposed by the auditor-general?” Mliswa
asked rhetorically.

Years of evidence indicate that Zimbabwe’s current political system is
built on patronage and that ultimately high-level corruption is rewarded
rather than punished.

“Are we not undermining the office of the auditor-general?” Mliswa asked.

Mliswa called for legislative reforms to bolster anti-corruption efforts.

Chinamasa said he had to negotiate with the Civil Service Commission so
that government creates an establishment solely dedicated to reading the
government auditor’s reports and responding to them.

“I believe we are almost getting there,” he said.

“You cannot respond to all those auditor’s reports unless there is some
team dedicated to ploughing through all those reports and disseminating or
rather discriminating what may not be quite true and what is true and
correcting the mistakes which are pointed out in those reports.”

The AG fulfils its mandate by conducting a variety of audits, such as
regularity audits – both financial and compliance – performance audits,
the audit of reporting against predetermined objectives, and
investigations.  The AG’s reports are public documents.

Despite the AG’s myriad damning corruption reports, the State has failed
to hold the highest members of government accountable for theft of public
funds, despite its stated commitment to eradicating corruption and much
good work from investigators and prosecutors at the technical level.

Earlier in March last year, the African Development Bank (AfDB) extended a
$3 million grant to strengthen Parliament’s watchdog role and help it make
the executive and other institutions dealing with public funds, more
transparent and accountable.

The fate of the funds remains unknown.