THE Public Accounts Committee (PAC) yesterday raised a red flag over appalling financial management at the Ministry of Health and Child Care due to poor accounting skills attributed to the recruitment freeze by government.
by VENERANDA LANGA
The development has resulted in poor management of medicines by different government hospitals.
PAC chairperson Paurina Mpariwa yesterday presented a report in the National Assembly on the Health ministry’s 2015 Appropriation Accounts and the 2011 to 2014 fund accounts.
The report revealed weak internal controls in management of medicines, violation of tender procedures in procurement, poor service delivery at hospitals, equipment supplied by donors lying idle and unsupported expenditure in financial records of the ministry.
The issues were revealed by the 2016 audit reports released by Auditor-General (AG) Mildred Chiri.
“The audit observed with concern the unavailability and poor management of essential medicines which are critical. In some instances, Kwekwe District Hospital failed to account for some medicine while Tsholotsho District Hospital and Gweru Provincial Hospital were operating without essential medicines as a result of poor prioritisation and weak internal controls on medicines management, resulting in medicines pilferages,” Mpariwa said.
“The committee noted with concern that the situation worsened in 2015, and stock levels at seven institutions visited in 2015 were below 80% and most institutions visited had weaknesses in maintenance of records.”
The report also noted poor service delivery at Karoi, Kariba and Tsholotsho district and Bindura provincial hospitals due to obsolete equipment, excessive electricity power cuts, absence of water and unavailability of medicines.
Cases of negligence by staff at Masvingo Provincial Hospital were recorded resulting in loss of lives. Three midwives did not attend to a patient in labour, resulting in a newly-born baby dying of cold, and a registered nurse neglected a patient who was critically ill resulting in their death.
The committee also noted weak controls in management of fuel totalling 32 280 litres valued at $41 048 and donated by co-operating partners of the ministry.
There was also irregular expenditure noted by the committee amounting to several thousands of dollars due to poor maintenance of accounting records on the Health Services Fund and the Medical Research Council of Zimbabwe, with the AG issuing qualified opinions on their 2015 books of accounts, which means that they were in serious shambles.
Seconder of the motion Priscilla Misihairabwi Mushonga blasted government departments for failing to follow procurement procedures as stipulated in the Public Finance Management Act.
Meanwhile, Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda said he would approach Reserve Bank governor John Mangudya on the issue of lengthy time taken to open a bank account. MPs had complained that it was taking two weeks or more to open bank accounts for their Constituency Development Fund allocations, an issue which negates government’s pledge to promote ease of doing business.