The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Public Accounts this week presented to Parliament a damning report from the Comptroller and Auditor detailing gross irregularities in the management of government assets, the government payroll and illegal barter trade practices by ministries.
Chairman of the committee and MP for Makoni West Webber Chinyadza told MPs the committee examined 15 ministries, and found stunning management irregularities.
Chinyadza told Parliament some ministers who were not reinstated or were assigned to other ministries, as well as permanent secretaries took with them government vehicles that they had been using.
“One Accounting Officer pointed out to the committee that at times they were placed in very difficult positions when recovering such items as laptops from former ministers,” said Chinyadza.
“The committee observed that there is no clear policy on movement of vehicles and other assets by ministers when they are reassigned to other ministries.”
The committee recommended that government should put in place a policy on minister’s entitlements and other benefits.
The audit investigations also revealed that 14 ministries had anomalies in the manner they administered cash.
Agriculture minister Joseph Made was cited as one minister who misused public funds in spectacular fashion.
“The Accounting Officer for the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development accepted that $21 738 was diverted from the Agriculture Revolving Fund to meet administration and general expenses including payment for the minister’s business cards, Internet router, head office provisions, and the minister’s hotel bill,” said Chinyadza.
The ministries of Water Resources, Development and Management, Public Works, Media, Information and Publicity and Economic Planning and Investment Promotion, were also found to have a rampant culture of non-accountability to the public in the way they used funds.
Barter trade was also found to be rampant at the ministries of Health and Child Welfare, Energy and Power Development, Transport, Communications and Infrastructural Development, and the Foreign Affairs ministry.
“These ministries were investigated for unlawfully engaging in barter trade as payment systems for goods and services. In the case of the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, it was observed that Shamva, Mvurwi, and Mutawatawa district hospitals were accepting maize, beans and animals as payment for hospital bills,” he revealed.
Diesel and fuel coupons were also being used as payment for goods and services by the Ministry of Energy and Power Development.