$17 million spent without trace at Air Zimbabwe
The 2017 Auditor General’s Report on State Enterprises and Parastatals has exposed extreme cases of weak corporate governance in the public sector notably at Air Zimbabwe (Private) Limited where the most recent audited financial statements relate to the 2010 financial years. Of concern were unsubstantiated debit and credit entries amounting to $213 million and $168 million respectively. The financial statements also included a suspense account of $22 million with the entity failing to provide supporting documents for expenditure amounting to $17 million.
This came out during an analysis meeting of the 2017 Auditor General’s Report with Parliamentarians which was held yesterday at a local hotel and convened by the Zimbabwe Coalition on Development (ZIMCODD) in partnership with the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) and Transparency International-Zimbabwe.
While giving an analysis of the Auditor General’s audit report with special focus on the State-owned mining enterprises, ZELA’s Economic Governance Officer and ZIMCODD’s National Chairperson, Mr. Mukasiri Sibanda said the citizens’ focus must not be on what is contained in the Auditor General’s reports but rather what is not disclosed while giving an example of the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) established to promote transparency and accountability in natural resources governance but has failed to embrace these statutes with its financial reports dating back to 2016.
“The Audit report is also silent on business and human rights issues. We need to be keen to comply with the United General guiding principles on Business and Human Rights. Human rights compliance should appear on the corporate governance agenda.
Our Parliament has been found wanting in implementing the Auditor’s recommendations and it is critical that they be pro active rather than being reactionary on audit findings,” added Mukasiri.
ZIMCODD’s Policy Research and Advocacy Manager, Mr. John Maketo noted that the Constitution of Zimbabwe specifically Section 30 requires the State to take all practical measures, within the limits of the resources available to it, to provide social security and social care to those who are in need. The Ministry of Public Service Labour and Social Welfare whose mandate is to reduce poverty and enhance self-reliance through the provision of social protection services to vulnerable and disadvantaged groups in Zimbabwe was implicated in the diversion of fund resources and the audit report showing that in 2015 and 2016 the Ministry utilised over 1.9 million which was meant for social service provision. Maketo noted that fiscal indiscipline affects the ordinary citizens the most and issues of mismanagement of public resources must not only be exposed but Parliament must enforce appropriate disciplinary action to those responsible for the persistent malpractices.
Parliamentary Portfolio Committee member on Mines and Mining Development and Mufakose Legislator, Honourable Susan Matsunga revealed that in a few weeks time a diamond policy will be tabled before Parliament and it is the role of the civic groups and development partners to ensure that they interrogate the contents of the policy, review and value add the document. However some participants expressed dismay over lack of consultation in the drafting of the policy and argued that this is a direct contravention of Section 13 of the Zimbabwean Constitution which states that people must be involved in the formulation and implementation of development plans and programmes that affect them.
The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance and Economic Development and Chikomba Central Constituency Member of Parliament, Honourable Felix Mhona while giving the closing remarks implored civil society to create more spaces for engagement on issues of national importance. Such platforms are essential for enhancing the parliament’s oversight and legislative roles. The discussion was timely as the parliament is currently seized with the budgeting process as it provides a basis building transparency and accountability measures in view of the Auditor General’s report.
The Office of the Auditor General whose mission is to is to examine, audit and report to Parliament on the management of public resources of Zimbabwe with the aim of improving accountability and good corporate governance has been consistent in its analysis. However there has been lack of political will by policy makers to implement the Auditor’s recommendations. Addressing the recommendations from the Auditor General’s report is a critical role in rebuilding public confidence and fostering participatory, inclusive and sustainable development.