Unqualified personnel manning Health Ministry accounts

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By Anna Chibamu

GOVERNMENT has admitted to employing unqualified personnel to handle accounting duties at most of its provincial health institutions, Parliament has heard.

Finance Director in the Ministry Health, Heather Machamire told the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee that the staff is qualified in other disciplines but not accounting.

“We are not using qualified personnel at district level. Remember, the Ministry decentralised and this information is coming from provinces and districts from bottom to the top,” Machamire told the committee.

Committee member and Masvingo Urban MP, Jacob Nyokanhete questioned why the ministry was failing to recruit skilled people for the job yet the country had thousands of unemployed graduates roaming the streets.

Permanent secretary Agnes Mahomva however, claimed the said personnel had been hired for other duties different from what they are doing now.

“The staff has not been specifically hired for that particular area. We cannot hire because we have no establishment. Those unqualified have to be trained and we are working towards a detailed trimming manual training of staff,” said Mahomva.

The Committee chaired by Harare East MP, Tendai Biti quizzed the officials regarding red flags raised in the Auditor General office’s Report of December 31, 2017 in which anomalies were detected relating to inaccurate receipting.

“US$6,741 million was allegedly transferred from Appropriation Accounts to Health Services Fund Account, without paper trail and authority Treasury. The report also showed that the funds were used for purposes not originally intended for.

“You did not have authority to do what you did,” said one committee member.

Mahomva apologised admitting the officials had erred.

“We do express our sincere remorse. The transfer was done verbally with no paperwork. We have external and internal auditors and our monitoring is very clear. An account with IBDZ has been opened after Finance Ministry’s approval,” the Permanent secretary said in response.

The Ministry of Health has a debt of US$70 million as well as a computer system error which the committee suspected had been left to go on for years (since 2015 to date) without being rectified for reasons known to the top officials.

Chegutu West MP Dexter Nduna had this to say: “We suspect that there is rampant corruption, collusion and nepotism in this document splitting error.”

Dzivarasekwa MP and committee acting chairperson Edwin Mushoriwa accused officials in the Ministry of hiding “fraudulent activities and using the error as a scapegoat.”

Mahomva denied the fraudulent allegations reporting that a German company had been hired to rectify the computer system error.