Authorities should take public audit reports seriously

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Faith Zaba

AUDITOR-GENERAL Mildred Chiri has once again tabled reports exposing shocking levels of the plunder of state-owned enterprises and resources. She also made stunning revelations of the rot at the state entities, which have weak corporate governance systems, resulting in huge financial losses and misappropriation of funds.

Candid Comment,Faith zaba
fzaba@zimind.co.zw

Chiri revealed that government last year overspent by more than US$2 billion without seeking parliamentary approval, while various departments and local authorities flagrantly flouted accounting procedures. 

One of the most shocking scandals uncovered by the auditor-general is the failure by the Ministry of Transport to account for more than US$52 million released by Treasury to bail out Air Zimbabwe, Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe and Central Mechanical and Equipment Department.

This is addition to what happened at the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (Zedtc), where it was revealed that the company had not taken delivery of transformers it paid for nine years ago. The struggling parastatal paid US$4,9 million to Pito Investments for the transformers that were never delivered.
The plunder, corruption and mismanagement at Air Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe School Examinations Council and the Grain Marketing Board were also exposed by Chiri’s audit.

Zimbabwe could also have been prejudiced of more than US$100 million in fictitious loan repayments because of a shoddy reporting system across ministries and statutory funds. This is not the first time that Chiri has exposed looting of public resources, corruption and mismanagement in local authorities, government and state entities.

Media and audits reports of various government-owned enterprises have exposed in past massive corruption scandals, which continue unabated. Abuse of state resources is now common practice. President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s commitment to fighting the cancerous scourge has been put to the test by the Chiri expose. How Mnangagwa handles these cases of corruption and plunder exposed in the Chiri reports will be a yardstick to gauge his commitment to fighting corruption without fear or favour. Zimbabweans are watching closely to see if the reports will be swept under the carpet as did the numerous audits she published during former president Robert Mugabe’s rule. Mugabe had cultivated a culture of corruption among top government and Zanu PF party officials by not acting on the rot. His administration’s failure to arrest the culprits, whose actions haemorrhaged the economy of millions of United States dollars fuelled kleptocracy where his close political associates could loot with reckless abandon without any consequences to their actions.

Mnangagwa has to act on these cases of mismanagement and corruption, which has become a way of life in Zimbabwe. There is no clearer evidence of the rot than what the audit-general has exposed.

The government cannot continue to ignore these cases of corruption and plunder, which in some cases are as clear as day, showing that there has been theft through either direct looting, abuse of state resources or open flouting of tender procedures.

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