It's time govt acts on AG expose's

HARARE - The Auditor-General (AG) Mildred Chiri has once again shaken the birdcage, as she unveiled yet more reports exposing the rot in President Robert Mugabe’s government  and State-run institutions.

According to the 2016 reports, financial indiscipline — gross misappropriation and abuse of funds — has actually escalated unabated to unprecedented levels.

Year-in, year-out, Chiri has done a fantastic job by diligently interrogating and spotlighting the shocking rot in government departments.

In her latest exposés, the brave AG said during the period under review, the Defence ministry failed to account for $2 million dollars, while the Grain Marketing Board diverted nearly $10 million meant to pay farmers for grain deliveries to salaries and utility bills, without approval.

On State enterprises and parastatals, Chiri revealed that 15 government-run institutions — including power utility Zesa Holdings and its subsidiaries, fixed-line operator TelOne, GMB, National Railways of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe National Water Authority — risk going bust, as they have operated in the red for too long.

On Zesa for instance, she said “ . . . the company’s current liabilities exceeded its current assets by $66,1 million as at December 31, 2015 from $65,3 million . .

This condition indicates the existence of a material uncertainty that may cast significant doubt about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern”.

That is worrying, particularly at a time power is critical in the revival of Zimbabwe’s dying economy.

Chiri’s exposés do not end there. The list continues.

She also revealed a shocker that some government departments, including the Meteorological Services Fund, advanced millions of dollars in loans to insolvent and perennial loss-maker — Air Zimbabwe.

On the other hand, Chiri unearthed that the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe paid $25 000 to a non-existent board, while she also said the Health ministry faces legal action over $70 million debts — some dating back to 2012 financial year — and urgently needs government’s intervention to avoid disaster.

All these malpractices and rogue operations — at the loss of huge sums of taxpayers’ money — are just some of many the AG seems to have tirelessly exposed.

Chiri’s mandate is simple — to examine the management of resources within the public sector — but requires decisive, pragmatic and tough action.

And that is where the biggest let-down is. Chiri’s reports have largely been ignored by the authorities.

There seems to be blatant reluctance and heel-dragging by the authorities to investigate Chiri’s leads and bring the culprits to book.

Surely, all these damning exposés cannot just be swept under the carpet, neither should they go into the dustbin.

There is urgent need for action by the authorities.

Apart from the resources, including time, wasted on generating the reports, millions of dollars in taxpayers’ money are being wasted. The authorities need to be held accountable. Lack of transparency and accountability has been the biggest weakness of the government.

Long-suffering Zimbabweans have borne the brunt of government’s mismanagement of resources for too long.

It keeps rewarding the bosses in parastatals with hefty salaries and allowances yet they are unproductive.

The economy is bleeding and government needs to plug all the holes, which are being brought to the fore by the AG.

After outrage over government’s inaction over Chiri’s reports, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said the handicap was that he had no staff to comb through the voluminous documents, but was negotiating with the Civil Service Commission to create a unit solely to sift through the reports and take necessary action.

Really? Is that an excuse for not probing malpractices costing the State millions of dollars?

Without belabouring the point, it is high time the authorities take action on the AG’s reports. Otherwise, the existence of the AG’s office is a waste of resources, which could be deployed towards meaningful and progressive developments.

Comments (2)

You think these people will do anything. If possible they would actually want Chiri stopped.

tick - 27 June 2017

I do agree with Tick,nothing has been done before to eradicate the black spots in parastatals financial management and nothing will ever be done

zoro - 28 June 2017

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