Sacred cows handicap public accountants

HARARE - State enterprises’ accountants say they cannot control the misappropriation of funds in the institutions as there are “untouchables” within.

Wesley Sibanda, the Public Accountants and Auditors Board (Paab) chairman, told an Accountants of Zimbabwe conference last Thursday that their hands were tied and could not control how funds were spent in the parastatals due to “sacred cows”.

“Public sector chief executives are appointed, this means they have a level of political clout accountants don’t have. So it is impossible to manage funds in such a set up,” he said.

“Tell me how you would enforce accounting standards and procedures with a boss who goes out of his way to take company funds without even consulting the accountant for advice,?’’ an accountant who serves one of the parastatals and preferred anonymity questioned.

These revelations come as Sibanda recently told businessdaily that the State auditors are not even allowed to publish their audit findings on public institutions.

“Our hands are tied, auditors should keep information confidential.

Paab only reports its findings to appropriate parastatal ministry at whose discretion disclosing the findings entirely lie. The only way we can be able to publish our findings is through a legislative go ahead,” he said.

This comes as Information minister Jonathan Moyo took a swipe at public accountants at the same occasion, accusing them of letting down the country in light of exposes of exorbitant and incommensurate salaries earned by parastatals’ bosses.

“Public accountants have a constitutional, professional and moral obligation to lead the fight against the evil of corruption, we have not been seeing a lot of this,” Moyo told the conference.

Following the disclosure of gross mismanagement in the public institutions, government imposed a $6 000 salary limit for top earners.

President Robert Mugabe has demanded action against chief executives implicated.

Moyo also said government is mulling plans of enacting a legislative piece on the governance of parastatals, State enterprises and local authorities.

“This framework relates to the appointments of boards, conduct of boards, relationships between boards and ministries and more critically the appointment of CEOs, the terms and conditions which are consistent with good corporate governance,” Moyo said.

He said the legislative piece is a way of government firing warning shots to non-compliant executives.

“It turns out that the response so far by the affected community of these officials has been negative and even contemptuous because there are no legal consequences for deviating from the framework.

“It is therefore necessary that we go a step further and legislate this framework so that there are clear legal parameters and clear legal penalties in the event of non-compliance,” he said.

Comments (4)

I agree. This is what political parties should be advocating for. A legal requirement for the findings of audits to be published in the press. Not the politicking that is going on right now. There is no point making demands like the president must resign because you know for a fact that will never happen even if it does play well to the political gallery. Set concrete targets for this corruption to be tackled and make these reports public knowledge

Thor - 15 April 2014

@Thor. People make demands for the president to resign because the buck stops with him. All policies have to have his approval and therefore with policies that do not work and promote corruption, we have to call for the leaderwho approves them to make way. Politics will always affect the economy.

Dr Know - 15 April 2014

Dr Know you are missing Thor's point. You are clutching at straws.

bollo billings - 17 April 2014

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