IN a gross dereliction of duty by the government, some parastatals have not been audited since 2009 while the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) and several other state-owned enterprises have not submitted their accounts for many years.
By Hazel Ndebele
The state-run National Handicraft Centre and National Library and Documentation Services were last audited in 2009, in flagrant violation of the principles of good governance.
Other parastatals which have not been audited for years include national flag carrier Air Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (Arda) and one of the country’s major referral medical institutions, Mpilo Central Hospital.
Zacc — an independent commission created in terms of the constitution to combat corruption through investigating and exposing cases of graft in both the public and private sectors, as well as promoting financial discipline and transparency — was last audited in 2012.
The Cold Storage Company (CSC) was last audited in 2013. The company was once the leading meat supplier in Africa. At its peak it was exporting to the European Union, but has since collapsed due to mismanagement, corruption and a lack of innovation.
Air Zimbabwe, Mpilo Hospital and ZBC were last audited in 2014.
In a telephone interview with the Zimbabwe Independent on Wednesday, the Auditor-General Mildred Chiri confirmed that several parastatals have not been audited.
“Most of the parastatals’ books are up to date although I can confirm that there are a few which have not been audited. Some were last audited in 2014 and some in 2015 and 2016. Some are in the process of compiling their financial statements,” Chiri said.
“The reason why some of the parastatals have not been audited is because they do not have enough funds to pay for auditing fees, for instance Air Zimbabwe and Arda. It is just that I am in Nyanga for a workshop, I would have shared with you the schedule which shows which parastatals are up to date and those which are not, but such documentation is in Harare.”
For several years, Chiri has presented damning reports on parastatals to Parliament, exposing the rot that has stalled Zimbabwe’s economic development.
Chiri’s duties as Auditor-General, according to the constitution and the Audit Office Act (Chapter 22:18) are: “In addition to examining, auditing and reporting on accounts of all persons entrusted with public monies or state property, to audit all institutions and agencies of government, and at the request of government carry out special audits of the accounts of any statutory body or government controlled entity.”
In her audits, Chiri has made numerous recommendations to curb the leakage of public funds and enhance good governance and transparency, but government has shown little willingness to implement the recommendations. Most parastatals have become feeding troughs for politicians and top managers, a development which has seen the authorities fail to take action on corrupt elements.
Most state-owned enterprises are incurring losses perennially, bleeding the fiscus and hampering economic progress. In the 1980s and early ’90s, parastatals used to contribute up to 40% of gross domestic product, but this is now estimated at below 10%.
Government has repeatedly announced plans to restructure and dispose of shareholding in some state-owned enterprises which have not been performing well over the years, but nothing has since materialised.
Entities which were once earmarked for restructuring or privatisation, as announced by Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa in various budget statements, include the National Railways of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority, Air Zimbabwe, Agricultural Bank of Zimbabwe, the Grain Marketing Board, Zimbabwe Grain Bag, NetOne and TelOne.
Audits conducted by Chiri’s office have also revealed plenty of rot in local authorities.
Speaking at a capacity building workshop for editors last weekend, speaker of the National Assembly, Jacob Mudenda, said the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has recently concluded analysing local authorities’ audit reports and was not happy with the results.
The PAC is a post-audit committee of the Parliament of Zimbabwe, vested with the authority to objectively analyse audited reports prepared by the Auditor-General.
“I wish to highlight that the PAC has just concluded five oral evidence sessions and the analysis of audited reports for the following local authorities: Bulawayo City Council, Mutare City Council, Nyanga Rural District Council, Mutasa Rural District Council and Mutare Rural District Council. From the work so far done by the PAC, I am not happy with the state of accounts at Mutare City Council and Bulawayo City Council,” revealed Mudenda.
“These local authorities received qualified opinions from the Auditor-General. These local authorities must self-correct and take the reports of the Auditor-General seriously as any recurrence of qualified opinions will not be taken lightly by Parliament.”
Section 299(1) of the country’s Constitution states that Parliament has a duty to monitor and oversee expenditure by the state and all commissions, institutions and agencies of government at every level, including statutory bodies, government-controlled entities, provincial and metropolitan councils and rural local authorities.
This is done to ensure that all revenue is accounted for, all expenditure has been properly incurred and that any limits and conditions on appropriations have been observed.