BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
FORMER State Enterprises and Parastatals minister Gorden Moyo has called on Zimbabwe to change its statutes and ensure that the country’s Auditor-General’s Office is bestowed with prosecuting powers to enable it to enforce accountability in the use of public funds by government departments and parastatals.
Every year, Auditor-General Mildred Chiri produces damning audit reports that show a litany of gross accounting malpractices by government departments, parastatals and local authorities. This has resulted in the country losing millions of dollars to graft.
Moyo, who served as minister during the government of national unity, on Friday told a virtual meeting organised by the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (Zimcodd) that Chiri’s reports were being swept under the carpet, a situation that exposes government’s lack of political will in fighting corruption.
For instance, Chiri’s reports on Appropriation and Fund Accounts for the year ended December 31, 2019, which were recently tabled before Parliament, showed that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government gobbled nearly US$7 billion in unauthorised expenditure due to lack of accountability by ministries.
The figure exceeded the approved budget of $580 655 000, thereby contravening section 305(5) of the Constitution.
In 2018, the unauthorised expenditure was US$2 billion, as government, which was supposed to spend US$4,6 billion from the consolidated revenue account, ended up blowing US$7,1 billion.
Moyo said Chiri was a frustrated person as her reports were being ignored due to lack of prosecutorial powers.
“It is the law that is handicapping her because the law says she can only report, but she cannot prosecute. But over the years, even during the time when I was part of that Executive, she raised those issues. She continues to raise those issues, and she will raise them probably next year, to the other year until there is change of some sort,” he said.
“The issues include misuse of funds, unauthorised expenditure by government departments and parastatals as well as overdrafts outside their mandate. The issues are not technical, but they are political and moral issues. Those issues that are political, the ministers themselves are involved, the Presidency is involved, and the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) is involved, and so as a result the AG is handicapped. She can’t move.”
Moyo said Parliament, which is supposed to be the eyes and ears of the public, was unable to restrain the ministers because MPs could be whipped.
“I think we, Zimbabweans, must demand more powers for the AG, perhaps for her to have prosecutorial powers, I don’t know. I will leave that to the legal minds. I am not a legal mind; I am only a policy person. On issues of policy, we can only push and say perhaps she can be given more powers,” Moyo said.
He said the solution was in the hands of the people of Zimbabwe, adding that people should not think that the Executive would one day wake up morally upright, and that the media should continue exposing graft.
Transparency International Zimbabwe official Njabulo Moyo said the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) should play its role of prosecuting government officials embezzling public funds.
“There should be punitive measures. If recommendations have been made we need timelines and punitive measures because the culture has been that institutions make losses, as witnessed in the case of the National Railways of Zimbabwe,” he said.
“It’s an institution that has always made losses as a parastatal and government is always bailing out NRZ. So as a director in the NRZ, why should you make profit, or why should you be sustainable? There is no obligation to be sustainable because government always cushions parastatals, and we know the cushioning is always a part of a bigger plan of siphoning resources from the country.”
Moyo said Zacc should also be conferred with prosecuting powers as guaranteed by the Constitution.
“Zacc needs to come out and play its role. If they are armed with prosecuting powers, individuals engaged in graft can be brought to book,” he
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