Auditor-General Mildred Chiri’s audit report on Appropriation Accounts, Finance and Revenue Statements and Fund Accounts has thrown new light on the maladministration of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government, an indictment on his “zero tolerance to corruption” mantra. It is apparent that apart from leadership, governance, and policy failures, and vagaries of international trade, including global commodity price fluctuations,
Zimbabwe’s economy is struggling due to high-level corruption, incompetence, and extended period of mismanagement of government affairs, including public finances. Below are the major highlights of the explosive report:
· Treasury made foreign direct payments on behalf of 16 ministries amounting to US$300 599 941. However, several ministries were not aware of these payments and
did not acknowledge these transactions. Five line ministries disputed Treasury disbursements from direct payments totalling US$183 638 970 (approximately ZW$14 763 681 058.
· Treasury made a foreign direct payment of US$155 703 721 on behalf of the ministry of Mines, but the ministry was only aware of US$486 501, giving a variance of US$151 217 220.
· The ministry of Finance made unauthorised excess transfers of ZW$100 690 788 418 without condonation from Parliament as required by section 307 of the constitution of Zimbabwe, among many other anomalies.
· Assets comprising 30 motor vehicles worth ZW$117 042 902 that were purchased by three ministries in 2020 had not been delivered by September 2021.
· The Zimbabwe Anti- Corruption Commmission (Zacc), Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and Zimbabwe Media Commission failed to present their 2020 books for auditing, raising questions of impunity.
● Zacc failed to produce supporting documents on expenditures amounting to US$1 116 548 in cash payments for the year ended 2019, for instance. For the year ending 31 December 2017, the report says the commission also failed to produce documents to support payments totalling over US$2 million.
● There were no supporting documents available in the form of invoices or supplier statements to validate Zacc’s expenditure and payables amounting to US$2 064 864 and US$417 138 respectively presented in the financial statements.
● On property, plant and equipment, the commission is said to have de-recognised or disposed of houses with a value of US$2 417 374 without following due procedure and with no proper explanations or supporting documents in the process, suggesting corrupt asset-stripping.
● Parliament is 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. For example, a review of the MPs’ fuel register revealed that 22 000 litres (3 760 petrol and 18 260 diesel) fuel coupons distributed in March, June, October and November 2020 had incomplete serial numbers recorded.
● The ministry of Finance processed various payments to suppliers of goods and services on behalf of ministries without adequate supporting documentation. For example, direct payment amounting to US$22 024 406, R6 403 830 and BWP 8 359 434 were made by Treasury on behalf of the Lands, Agriculture and ministry of Transport.
● Expenditure of over ZW$1 billion was not supported by documents such as acquitals, invoices, receipts, delivery and good received notes as proof that they recorded transactions.
● Over ZW$1 billion in unsupported subsidies disbursements to Zupco were also not accounted for.
● The Salary Service Bureau figures for seven ministries were more than the compensation of employees by over ZW$1 billion.
● Assets comprising 30 motor vehicles worth ZW$117 million purchased by three ministries had not been delivered by September 2021.
● According to the Auditor-General’s report for the financial year ended 31 December 2020 on local authorities, massive corruption and bad corporate governance were reported at several councils, including Harare, Bulawayo, Masvingo, Gweru, Chiredzi, Gokwe, Nyanga and Chitungwiza.
● Harare was accused of failing to account for over US$1 million. Its accounting system is shambolic, facilitating opaque transactions.
● Chiri also flagged Masvingo for failing to account for US$137 713 meant for the procurement of 545 drums of bitumen in 2016, which are yet to be delivered, five years on.
● The Tsholotsho Rural District Council did not provide the 2018 Road Fund acquittals amounting to US$172 378
● In 2018, Gokwe Town Council allocated a commercial stand measuring 8 750 square metres to the town council chairperson without following due processes. In 2018, Nyanga Rural District Council recorded US$536 500 as stand deposits, but could not provide any supporting documents for such funds.
● No proper records of relief items received or disbursed were maintained.
● There was no uniformity in accounting for donations from Manyame airbase from Manicaland and Masvingo provinces as there were no detailed dispatch documents and receiving registers for audit trail.
● Only a list of donated items was submitted for audit.
● The Auditor-General also noted the slow utilisation of donated funds, the financial assistance of close to ZW$2 million, US$3 million and R20 million.