BY VENERANDA LANGA
ACTING Finance secretary Zvinechimwe Churu yesterday angered legislators from the Public Accounts Committee when he suggested that he doubted the integrity of Auditor-General Mildred Chiri’s audit reports.
Churu appeared before the Tendai Biti-led Public Accounts Committee to answer questions relating to issues of financial impropriety in his ministry where US$3,2 billion was unaccounted for in 2017 and 2018.
Asked to explain the issue, Churu told the committee that he doubted the correctness of Chiri’s 2017 and 2018 audit reports in question.
MDC legislator Virginia Mafuta asked Churu to provide documentary evidence on how the US$3,2 billion was used and he promised to do so at a later date.
But Kambuzuma MP Willias Madzimure then said he was suspicious about the promises because the committee had requested for requisitions for another $200 million sometime ago, which Churu was yet to provide.
Biti then said: “The AG (Chiri), in her 2018 audit report, came to the conclusion that the allocations you made of US$3,2 billion were made to line ministries, which had not even requested for those amounts because you failed to give her supporting documents and that is why you are making payments to ministries in the absence of documentation.”
Churu responded: “I am actually surprised by those audit observations by Chiri.”
The committee was not impressed with his response and took it that he was challenging the integrity of AG Chiri.
“We cannot accept that you accuse the AG of lack of integrity and if you continue to do that then we are finished as a country because you cannot challenge audit reports. We advise you that you withdraw any statement that seeks to impeach on, directly or indirectly an insinuated attack on the AG,” Biti said.
Churu responded: “I did not attack the AG. I am only saying can you also please give the Accountant-General in the Ministry of Finance Daniel Muchemwa the benefit of doubt. I have a lot of respect for this committee and MPs, but it is also unfair for MPs to say they have a position on my character.”
Biti said the only position they had as a committee was on Muchemwa’s character, which the committee report recently recommended that he must be fired as Accountant-General.