BY VENERANDA LANGA
ACCOUNTANT-General in the Finance ministry, Daniel Muchemwa, has admitted before Parliament that his ministry had carried out financial transactions that were outside the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).
Muchemwa was appearing before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) led by Tendai Biti (Harare East MP) on Monday to answer to allegations of unauthorised allocations of funds to the Command Agriculture programme. Biti described the behaviour of the Finance ministry bureaucrats as “rogue”.
The committee expressed unhappiness that the ministry had failed to account for $3,2 billion allocated during 2017 to 2018 to Command Agriculture.
Acting secretary in the Finance ministry, Zvinechimwe Churu, said to correct the anomaly, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube would bring a Bill before Parliament
for condonation because the ministry had failed to bring a supplementary budget in 2018 for the $3,2 billion which was paid through Treasury Bills.
Noting the extent of financial mismanagement by the Finance ministry, Biti spoke very strongly against it.
“How do you feel when you offend the PFMA and the Constitution and all laws? How does a country function when there are bureaucrats in the Ministry of Finance
that do not respect the laws of the country? You are supposed to be the enforcers of good governance and how do we have a country where the enforcer is the one
committing the bank robberies, and what is the point of a budget when the Ministry of Finance is at the forefront of derailing those allocations?” Biti asked.
“This is a savage, rogue attack on our Public Finance Management System, and this is not professional because if you were in the private sector, you would have
been fired,” he said.
Muchemwa submitted that the 2017 and 2018 Auditor-General’s report would, indeed, reveal a lot of inconsistencies in the manner the Finance ministry handled
“It is consistent with the rogue nature that we exhibited here. I think we have accepted that for three years, we did not complied with the law. Lack of
respect of the law will be consistent throughout your questions,” Muchemwa said.
Some of the facts that were laid before Muchemwa by Kambuzuma MP Willias Madzimure (MDC Alliance) were that in 2016, when the Command Agriculture programme was
introduced, it was funded through a private lender and Treasury did not give the details of the nature, procedures to be used for the programme and accounting records.
“Why were financial procedures not put in place for the Command Agriculture programme before it started and we need to see the list of beneficiaries,”
Muchemwa then conceded that there was no accounting procedure put in place when the Command Agriculture programme was introduced in 2016.
“There was no accounting procedure because when Command Agriculture came into place, I was not yet aware of the process that would follow to achieve command
agriculture. I confirm that the programme started without procedures, but they were later put in place,” Muchemwa said.