Auditor-General Report: Much Ado About Nothing.

By Sij Ncube

Harare, July 5, 2015- AUDITOR-GENERAL Mildred Chiri has released a damning audit report exposing endemic corruption, mismanagement and poor corporate governance in several ministries and state enterprises but critics don’t expect President Robert Mugabe’s corruption-riddled administration to act to stop the rot.

Chiri’s report shows brazen theft of cash, stripping of assets and dilatory supervision by officials charge with protecting state property which, to all intents and purposes, is criminal.

For instance, the ministry of Defence, according to Chiri, has been acting with impunity, flouting set government regulations by not providing asset registers for audit, raising fears some state assets could have been stripped or stolen.

For four consecutive years, the Ministry of Defence failed to include assets from the Zimbabwe National Army and the Air Force of Zimbabwe, failure which Chiri says could result in the ministry not fully accountable for its assets “thereby exposing them to misuse and theft.”

Chiri said in some cases Treasury has been over-paying services provides. The Treasury paid $26, 7 million direct to service providers on behalf of the ministry.

“The Treasury advised the ministry to obtain receipts from each respective service provider confirming payments made. However, there was no indication that this was done and no reconciliation were provided to show the actual invoices paid and the actual amount owed to each service provider.

“Therefore, I could not confirm whether the direct payments made by Treasury were against existing debts and that the ministry accounts were accredited with the same accounts,” she said.

She has also unravelled rampant abuse of fuel at the District Development Fund in which more than 6 000 litres drawn within a month, worthy over $1, 6 million, could not be accounted for.

According her report on DDF regarding the fuel scam, she noted that fuel amounting to $2,8 million was procured but only fuel valued at $829 333 was accounted for, leaving a balance of $1,6 million.

She has also smoked out an $11 million fraud scam at the Zimbabwe National Road Authority (Zinara) chaired by the President’s nephew where senior management paid themselves hefty monthly allowances, including $9000 holiday allowance per individual outside the payroll, prejudicing the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority of revenue in tax.

Chiri’s audit report exposes Zinara as among seven state entities that had adverse reports in her 2014 publication released on June 24, 2015.

The same report fingers the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation which paid $3,1 million on corporate social responsibility with no breakdowns, acknowledgement of receipts from beneficiaries and also gave non-executive directors 2940 litres per individual with $27 450 holiday allowances each without the parent ministry approval.

Analysts note that while the Audit General report reveals gross mismanagement, corruption and poor corporate governance, Mugabe’s administration has previously done little to bring the culprits to book despite an economic meltdown threatening to bring the government to its knees.

Mugabe, instead of blaming the targeted sanctions imposed by the West due to alleged human rights abuses; corruption in his administration is to blame for the prevailing harsh economic climate as managers’ loot state coffers to finance lavish lifestyles.

Rawlings Magede, an analyst with keen interest on public administration, said the Auditor General’s latest report provides an opportunity for the government to act “now” that there is compelling evidence.

But Magede was quick to point out revelations of endemic graft would be a test case for Mugabe and Zanu (PF).

“What is not so sure about is whether we will see arrests as corruption has become institutionalised in our country,” he said.

Madock Chivasa, the spokesperson for the National Constitutional Assembly, predicted the Auditor General’s report would continue gathering dust in Mugabe’s office.

“Zanu (PF) cannot deal with issues of corruption because in most cases its Zanu PF top officials responsible for corruption. Naturally we cannot expect Zanu PF to fight itself. There are no arrests or punishment because Zanu (PF) cannot punish itself they use selective application of the law. No thief can arrest another thief,” said Chivasa.

For Jacob Mafume, the spokesman for the MDC Renewal Team, the bane of Africa and the Zimbabwean government has always been primitive accumulation.

Mafume said the Chiri report confirmed parasitic corruption inherent in the country under the Zanu PF administration.

“They build houses that are bigger than courts and government offices. They also have roads in their yards that are longer than some national roads. The highlight is that some people in Zanu (PF) have houses with more toilets than Hopley in Harare South which has over 60 000 people.

“The houses of some Zanu (PF) big-wigs have more light bulbs than whole streets in Harare. This is not only sabotage but high economic treason. The whole government set up has become a giant mafia organisation. I think like FIFA or the mafia the whole government must be declared an organized crime unit,” he said.

He believes it is fool-hardy to expect Mugabe to crack the wipe against corrupt Zanu (PF) officials managing state entities, noting the Zanu (PF) leader has failed to walk the talk on corruption.

“Remember when the anti-corruption unit tried something they ended up being arrested themselves. The courts are more often than not used to clean the reputation of the white collar criminals. They use it to launder their dirty characters. Our criminal justice system is criminal.”