Govt turns blind eye to worsening graft

Source: Govt turns blind eye to worsening graft – The Standard July 2, 2017

THE failure by government to act on numerous reports of corruption and incompetence produced by the Auditor-General (AG) is pushing the country deeper into economic turmoil, analysts have said.


Every year, the AG Midred Chiri produces reports exposing corruption, incompetence and bad governance in government departments, local authorities and parastatals but the dossiers have largely been ignored.

A fortnight ago, the AG released three damning reports, exposing the rot in many governments departments and parastatals, but as has been the case with previous ones, they are likely to be ignored.

The reports exposed massive rot in local authorities where councils’ accounts records were in shambles while others borrowed heavily to finance their day-to-day operations and salary obligations.

Economic analysts who spoke to Standardbusiness last week said it was tragic that the AG had many times worked hard to expose corruption and bad governance but it had all come to nothing because nobody seemed to take note or to care.

“It is instructive to note that in the late 1980s and early 1990s, parastatals used to contribute up to 40% to the gross domestic product (GDP) of Zimbabwe but this has gone down below 10%,” an economist, Blessing Machiva said.

“The incompetence in these parastatals has affected our economy very badly.

“Companies like National Railways of Zimbabwe, the Cold Storage Commision and Air Zimbabwe were at one time reliable generators of revenue and creators of employment but the situation is now opposite.

“They are now milking the fiscus.

“The economy is suffering from a liquidity crisis because of massive externalisation of the US dollar necessitated by our dependency on imports.”

Machiva said while government was negotiating partnerships with prospective investors in a bid to revive these parastatals, investors were not likely to risk pouring money into an environment where there was evidence of gross incompetence, mismanagement of funds and corruption.

“The government needs to show its seriousness by returning to good governance and effectiveness in these parastatals,” he said.

Machiva said there was no reason for the government to keep managers who were incompetent and ineffective and whenever one was proven corrupt, action should be taken to punish them and to correct the situation.

“Corruption can never be stopped in Zimbabwe if people know that nothing will be done to them if they are exposed.
To the contrary, the continued dismissal of the AG’s reports will serve to encourage more corruption,” he said.

Economist John Robertson said it appeared that senior people in government were allowed, even encouraged, to believe that nothing can ever be done to them.

Reginald Shoko, an economic analyst said there was a need to appoint strong boards into parastatals and not to appoint friends and relatives into boards as rewards for previous favours.

“The boards must play their oversight role and remove corruption from these enterprises and above that, line ministers must stop running enterprises as personal businesses,” he said.

Shoko said corruption was now worse than the economic sanctions that government was crying over.

“Audits are very necessary and crucial but the results must be taken into consideration in planning the future. The auditor-general must be allowed to call for accountability through pursuing criminal prosecution of board and management of such enterprises”.

“Above all, the Anti-Corruption Commission must immediately act on the results of the audit because most of the reported activities at the parastatals border on corruption.”

Robertson said the way forward was to hold everyone to account every time without exception. That, he said, would be certain to change behaviour very quickly and would reverse the trend that has allowed dishonesty to become a cultural norm for anyone who gets the opportunity.