Parliament summons Guvamatanga over FinMin failure to explain unauthorised expenditure 

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By Anna Chibamu 

THE Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Monday gave the Finance ministry a seven-day ultimatum to submit unauthorised expenditure information requested by the Auditor General’s (AG) office for validation processes.

It emerged during an oral evidence hearing that the ministry had not submitted requested documents by the AG’s office as the government continued to spend outside the national budget without Parliament’s approval for years.

Acting committee chairperson and Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) Dzivaresekwa MP, Edwin Mushoriwa, condemned the ministry’s acting Accountant General, Edwin Zvandasara, who struggled to explain the anomalies in the ministry.

“Monday August 1, 2022 at 10 am, all the required validation material should have been submitted to Mildred Chiri’s office and Parliament, failure of which will be a breach of Parliamentary regulations. You are going to come before this committee on August 14, 2022 led by the Finance secretary (George Guvamatanga),” Mushoriwa said.

During the deliberations, Mushoriwa criticised the ministry officials for lack of planning and preparedness.

“Are you regarding Zimbabweans so low? Why have you delayed in submitting information whilst your ministry continues to over spend year-in year-out?

CCC Kambuzuma MP, Willias Madzimure, demanded a paper trail of what the ministry had been doing since July 13, 2020.

“What has been happening for the past two years? We need a paper trail from 2020 to this day. Are you not just coming to Parliament for appearance’s sake and then disappearing.

“Please tell this committee, are you saying the Zimbabwean accounting system is so bad that we cannot have any paper trail and even follow-up on where money has gone? Billions have been paid to Command Agriculture, but the AG’s office has so far not yet received any such information,” Madzimure queried.

Another committee member and CCC legislator, Charlton Hwende said, “This ministry is not taking Parliament seriously. From their explanations, it shows they are undermining this institution. This is a serious matter which requires the secretary himself to come for the hearing.

“The required answers we are sitting for are not adequate. It is a pity that the permanent secretary got in contact with someone who has Covid-19. Let us hope we do not see him running around in corridors. If the reason has been used for him to evade Parliament, then it is a shame because we are dealing with a serious matter here,” Hwende said, adding that Guvamatanga should come along with his junior officers.

“These guys are a law unto themselves. They spend billions of dollars without Parliament and they do not follow the constitutional limits and even seek condonation and give AG reports on time. We need to interact with their seniors,” added Hwende.

According to the committee report, the Finance ministry had not restored the 2019 Finance Amendment Bill, where it sought condonation of ZW$6.78 billion. The bill lapsed at the end of the 2nd session and was not restored in the 3rd and current session.

Also, the new Bill HB 4, 2022 which sought for the unauthorised expenditure condonation for 2019 amounting to ZW$6.78 billion, 2015-2018 US$9.6 billion and 2020 ZW$100.6 billion, had lapsed.

Zvandasara told the committee that Covid-19 was the main challenge as staff was home for the greater part of 2020 to 2022, whilst he admitted there were serious delays in availing information to the AG’s office for the validation process to take place.

“Apologies for the delays. It has been difficult for everyone on board due to Covid-19. We stand ready to avail the requested outstanding information,” Zvandasara told PAC members.