Zim audit shows shocking abuse of public funds

Harare - Zimbabwe’s auditor general has revealed shocking details of the abuse of public funds at state-owned institutions and government ministries.

In her latest report, Zimbabwe’s auditor general Mildred Chiri disclosed how government-owned institutions could not account for huge sums of money under their watch.

In some cases, the public enterprises department flouted regulations governing the use of funds running into millions of dollars. One such organisation is the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe, which paid over $25 000 in fees to a non-existent board.

“Furthermore, the Corporation incurred expenditure on donations amounting to $2.9m that exceeded the approved budget of $250 000,” said the audit report.

Another entity that spent more than was approved is the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board, which incurred excess escalation costs amounting to $7m not sanctioned by State Procurement Board.

The Grain Marketing Board (GMB), which has the mandate to purchase grain from farmers, diverted grain purchase funds amounting to $7.9m to non-related activities. This comes at a time when farmers have been shunning GMB for late and non-payment of grain deliveries. 

The Zimbabwe National Roads Administration was also on the “naughty list” after it failed to support project expenditure amounting to at least $2.1m, while the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency could not support census expenditure amounting to $28m.

Another shocking revelation which showed serious misuse of public funds concerns the National Social Security Authority (NSSA), the statutory corporate body tasked by the government to provide social security, while at the same time collecting compulsory contributions from all employees. The NSSA reportedly said it “cannot locate” a $3.4m piece of land it bought using pensioners’ money.

The audit also revealed that the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission did not have title deeds for three houses valued at $2.4m allocated to its employees.

A further disclosure is that the National Railways of Zimbabwe bought goods worth $1.4m that were not delivered, with some of these dating back as far as 2011.

The audit report has stirred debate in the country, with Zimbabweans asking why the rot is allowed to continue year after year.

“Every year the auditor general releases damning audit reports exposing endemic corruption, mismanagement and poor corporate governance in several ministries and state enterprises, but nothing is done to bring the perpetrators to book,” said analyst Walter Mandeya.

'Corruption has become fashionable'

“I don’t think we will see any arrests as corruption has become fashionable in our country,” he said.

Debating on the report in parliament, MP James Maridadi said heads in government must roll if the Zimbabwean parliament wants to be taken seriously by the people.

"If it were me running the show, I would expect the minister to come with the resignation of the permanent secretary. He hands it over to the president and says 'Mr President, here is the resignation letter from the permanent secretary and by the way, here is my resignation as well' and they leave together."

Maridadi asked Zimbabwe's Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko what he felt when such reports on government are being presented.

"I want to ask a question to Honourable Vice-President Mphoko – what goes on in your head when you hear a report like the one that has been presented in this parliament? Do you go home, eat supper and sleep?"

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