AUDITOR-GENERAL Mildred Chiri yesterday spoke publicly for the first time since releasing crack investigations exposing maladministration in local authorities, government ministries and state agencies, vowing to continue fighting corruption even if her recommendations were not acted upon.
Chiri, who spoke exclusively to the Zimbabwe Independent on the sidelines of an interface with journalists in Nyanga, chronicled the frustration that grips her every time recommendations from her much respected reports gather dust in public offices.
However, she said her office had noticed rapid improvements in public sector administration since her office began making ground breaking disclosures about fraud, corruption and mismanagement in government.
Chiri said heads of government ministries and state agencies had a duty to impress upon their subordinates how crucial it was to act on the auditor’s counsel, while spelling out the consequences of laxity.
“My mandate is to audit all ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs),” Chiri said.
“My office will continue to carry out its mandate whether or not my recommendations are implemented. It’s discouraging when some recommendations are not heeded.
“However, we now see some noticeable improvements in the implementation of recommendations and this is heartening. MDAs do not necessarily have to implement my recommendations as suggested in my reports but they should address the audit findings in whatever manner or method they find expedient,” she added.
Maladministration has cost Zimbabwe dearly.
Most of the country’s over 100 state firms are insolvent, and their contribution to gross domestic product has declined to about 10%, from 40% in the 1990s.
Zimbabwe’s top auditor heaped praises on Parliament of Zimbabwe for pushing for follow-ups to her recommendations.
“For outstanding recommendations, what needs to be done is enforcement by superiors within the MDAs and outlining consequences for poor or inadequate performance,” Chiri said.
“Performance contracts have been signed by management of all MDAs and this is a measure of ensuring that work, which includes audit recommendations inter alia, will be addressed.
“The Public Accounts Committee always seeks for oral evidence to get further elaborations on audit findings from MDAs. Parliament is doing its best in ensuring adherence to my audit findings,” she added.
Her latest reports exposed poor administration in a string of State agencies, including the Zimbabwe Republic Police, which she said failed to produce financial records for its 16 farms, with a combined 11 906 hectares.
The reports were required to facilitate audits.
“The farms were allocated by the government to the Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage. For the second year in succession, I have to report that the Ministry of Home Affairs did not produce financial records, showing the police service farming activities were being accounted for,” Chiri said.
“I was, therefore, not able to validate whether all expenditure incurred and revenue generated had been properly accounted for and reported at the end of the year.
“State property and activities may not be fully accounted for if systems are not in place to ensure transparency and effective reporting. Payments by the Home Affairs ministry were not supported by vouchers and receipts as confirmation that service providers or suppliers provided the services and received the money,” she added.
Police said internal auditors visited only five farms during the period, due to Covid-19 lockdowns.
“The 16 farms are Police Service Funds amenities operating under the Zimbabwe Republic Police Board of Trustees. Operations of the farms are guided by Police Standing Orders Volume One and periodic circulars,” the police said.
“They are managed by the respective provincial commanders where they are located. Financial statements are reviewed by the police internal auditors before submission to Police General Headquarters.”
Chiri said several government ministries had failed to provide enough documentation for purchased assets, making it difficult to verify the accuracy of the expenditure they reported.