AN internal audit carried out on the Department of Research and Specialist Services in the Agriculture ministry has revealed that government was prejudiced of over US$100 000 due to corrupt activities and poor internal control systems, the Zimbabwe Independent has learnt.
By Bernard Mpofu
The auditors called for the immediate prosecution of those who got their hands into the cookie jar to recover over US$100 000 in public funds which was lost to fraudulent travelling and subsistence allocations, misappropriated funds, unauthorised expenditure, cash not acquitted and outstanding deliveries.
The audit was conducted by the Comptroller and Auditor-General Mildred Chiri from December 1 2014 to January 16 2015 and covered the period January 2012 to January 2015. It was conducted to ascertain whether there was accountability for public funds; compliance with laid down procedures and regulations. It was also meant to establish the efficiency and effectiveness of internal control systems and the implementation of previous audit recommendations.
“The acting head of the institute should endeavour to recover all fraudulent and subsistence claims from responsible officers and take disciplinary action against the members. All fraudulent cases should be reported to police,” reads the report in part.
“There were weak internal controls particularly on travelling and subsistence allowances management within plant quarantine services among other weaknesses. It is audit opinion that such irregularities have impacted negatively on the achievement of the Institute’s mandate. Therefore, there is great need for the institute to enhance and tighten up internal controls particularly financial controls for the successful accomplishment of the divisional goals.”
The report showed that some officials at the Plant Quarantine Station made fraudulent claims amounting to US$66 574 in travelling allowances, misappropriated a sum of US$4 840 and made an unauthorised expenditure of US$9 350, among other irregularities.
“The accounting assistant Mr E Rufu EC 176491 prejudiced government funds by claiming to be in different places at the same day. For example, on January 20, he claimed to have travelled the following journeys; Mazowe to Masvingo, Chirundu to Mazowe and Kariba to Mazowe thereby claiming to have undertaken three different trips on one day,” the report reads.
“A total of US$3 685 was claimed by six officers for periods they were at the home station according to the check on/out register, gate book and records they used at the home station . . . Ledger cards were not being maintained and updated regularly resulting in failure to acquit travelling and subsistence advances amounting to US$66 574 and abuse of office through travelling and subsistence allowances payments by Mr E Rufu,” reads the report.
Chiri has over the years exposed systematic corruption writ large in state enterprise and parastatals, but government has taken little or no remedial action.