Councils, Parastatals Slow To Plug Financial Loopholes: Auditor General 

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By James Muonwa, Mashonaland West Correspondent

AUDITOR-General (AG), Mildred Chiri has lamented the slow pace of implementation of measures to stem financial leakages and corruption within local authorities, parastatals, and government departments.

The AG says reports and recommendations emanating from her office were being ignored as culprits took a long time to fix red-flagged areas in order to continue plundering resources.

Chiri was speaking on the sidelines of the Internal Control Congress For Africa held in Kariba Tuesday.

Chiri said: “We have been producing reports but the implementation process has been quite slow. But, however, now l am glad to say l see some positive progress now being made.

“We find that internal auditors and ministries are also following up on my findings, the AG’s findings. Also, the Finance Ministry has come up with a unit that is tracking implementation of the AG’s report and recommendations.”

She said the ante has been upped against state institutions following the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZAAC)’s and the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee’s appetite to see the implementation of her recommendations.

Chiri said the Covid-19 pandemic had negatively impacted on government’s accounting capacity, which opened floodgates for theft of donated relief materials, including coronavirus vaccines and vaccination cards.

“Covid-19 caught us unawares and we discovered that we need very robust systems to be able to navigate our way through our operations and be able to sustain the way we do business during Covid-19,” she said.

The AG added the Finance Ministry had come up with programmes, procedures, and policies geared towards emergency situations.

“We are quite confident that these new measures will go a long way in curbing any loopholes that we discovered when we did the audit of Covid-19 (materials).”

“When we did that audit we discovered that people were caught unawares, we were not prepared and so systems were not geared to cater for these emergency measures whereby resources were being distributed to beneficiaries, and in the process, there were loopholes and underhand dealings in the process,” Chiri said.

“As usual people of unscrupulous minds actually took advantage, but going forward, once these new measures are implemented by the Ministry of Finance, l think a lot of the loopholes and any malfeasance that could have happened in the past is going to be addressed.”

Chiri underscored the need to digitalise the entire public finance management system.