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Act on leakages, Chiri says

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…as Zim loses billions to corruption

AUDITOR-GENERAL Mildred Chiri, whose office has exposed rot and the looting of millions of dollars in the government, parastatals and local authorities, says action must be taken to stem the leakages and to ensure that culprits return the loot to rescue the country’s economy from further bleeding.

MOSES MATENGA

Every year, Zimbabwe has lost millions of dollars to looting, fraud and corruption as exposed in several audit reports.

An institution tasked with fighting graft, the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc), has also been exposed for failure to submit its books for audit.

Chiri told The NewsHawks this week that the country’s economy can only attain the Vision 2030 targets if leakages are plugged in local authorities, parastatals and government departments.

“lf this is fixed, it will help our economy to grow as a country,” Chiri said. “We have to plug all leaks and we always give recommendations in our reports that try and help in stopping all the leakages. If that happens, the money will go towards programmes to build the country like the National Development Strategy (NDS 1),” she added.

She said her office was responsible for auditing and implored institutions tasked with combating crime to take action.

“Our role is to audit and bring the results to give government departments to look into and address. If they do not act, we have the judiciary to take it up and we have Zacc also that should take our reports and follow up on them if there is need for further action to follow those named to put things in order,” Chiri said.

“We signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Zacc where we give information that helps them in doing their work so we give them the reports and explain to them what they mean so that they do their job.”

She said the government must come up with disciplinary measures to hold accountable all those found wanting in the discharge of their duties.

“There is also need to ensure those who are found wanting are made to return what they would have taken, be it money or resources. A lot can be done to ensure people work,” she said.

Chiri said there has been improvement in the implementation of the Auditor-General’s recommendations in the last few years, but emphasised that more needs to be done.

“There has been little change in way of doing things, though it is at a very slow pace. Implementation of our recommendations is between 30 and 40% with others acting but we realise that over the past few years, there is gradual improvement,” she said.

On Zacc, which has also been implicated for lacking transparency and accountability by not availing books for audit, Chiri said: “It is something we noted and want to be fixed. Every cloud has a silver lining and there is no one without blame in all organisations. There are also some bad apples in any organisation so Zacc may have people like that who need to be pushed to make sure they work.”

“We know their (Zacc) intention is for things to work,” she said.

Zacc, the report noted, has failed to properly account for millions of United States dollars which could have been misappropriated as its accounting books have remained in a shambles for a decade.

The anti-corruption body issued a statement this week conceding that its books were previously not in order as noted by the audit report, but said that has changed since the coming in of the new team of commissioners and the chairperson, Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo.

Chiri said there was a need to present the reports in national languages so that people can follow how the taxes they pay to local authorities and the government is being used.

“Our reports must change the people’s lives in a positive sense. We need to put our reports in vernacular. People need to know how their tax and council levies are being used,” she said.

According to the Auditor-General’s latest report, Zimbabwe’s Treasury made foreign direct payments on behalf of 16 government ministries amounting to US$300 599 941 (ZW$18 955 573 888 using the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe 2020 spot rates) without the required parliamentary approval and the knowledge of beneficiary ministries.

Parliament was also accused of failing to account for thousands of litres of fuel after leaving out serial numbers in its coupon disbursements while also failing to provide documentation for its expenses, in contravention of the law.

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