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By Anna Chibamu
AUDITOR-General (AG) Mildred Chiri says her office has been threatened by some companies named in her recently released hard-hitting annual audit report for 2019.
Giving oral evidence to the Public Accounts Parliamentary Portfolio committee on Monday, Chiri said she resorted to not naming companies involved in underhand dealings in order to avoid lawsuits.
“Regarding the naming of companies with issues in the annual report, the approach of naming suppliers and companies was not done in order to manage the risk associated with potential litigation. There have been comebacks with some suppliers on some of our findings in the past. Those that have approached us in the past were saying naming them in our reports had resulted in them losing business. They think just mentioning their names taints them as this takes away their future businesses,” said Chiri.
She indicated that some litigations had to do with forensic audits, whilst some suppliers would threaten her office.
“Some would sort of like threaten and when we checked with our secretariat. They warned us that we would face a litany of law suits if we continued with naming companies,” Chiri added.
She promised to satisfy all stakeholders in future as her office was now in the process of finding ways to deal with such matters.
During the oral evidence hearings by Parliamentary Portfolio committees in the past, some companies have been implicated in shady deals either by being paid in advance but still failing to supply government entities with the product.
She also highlighted that her office failed to fully carry out its mandate due to financial constraints and failure by government entities in providing with adequate documentation.
“This year we did not manage to go out in the provinces so the observation are a bit reduced as result but still it is like more or less like what it was last year. “Site visits could not be carried out in 2019 financial year because of funds constraints as cited by treasurer. In 2020 again no site visits were done as funds in the budget for ministries including ours were transferred by treasurer to fight the Covid 19. Our staff numbers due to Public Service Commission directive on downsizing were already constrained.”
Chiri also revealed that in 2020, the World Bank availed funds for a special audit on the use of funds donated for Covid-19 pandemic.
“We managed to send some staff to undertake the special audit in three of the provinces. The audit was conducted jointly with internal auditors as the World Bank request in order to pass on skills to internal auditors. The report was completed and the report is now ready for tabling and I am sure any time it will be available,” she said.