BY HARIETT CHIKANDIWA/TANYARADZWA NHARI
BOSSES running Zimbabwe’s mostly insolvent State firms and public enterprises have salted away substantial amounts of funds under the pretext of donations, the Zimbabwe Anti – Corruption Commission (Zacc) revealed at the weekend.
Zacc deputy chairperson Kuziva Murapa did not disclose the extent of economic damage stemming from this avenue of plunder.
But an auditor-general (AG)’s report exposed how a State agency was forced to fund election campaigns for an influential ruling Zanu PF bigwig.
Murapa said Zacc was worried that laxity in improving controls was continuing even after the AG raised the red flag on several occasions.
He said Zacc was also worried that the AG’s recommendations for State firms to make follow ups on undelivered goods had been ignored, and wastage of taxpayers’ funds through this loophole was worsening.
“(The) auditor-general’s reports are replete with cases of flagrant abuse of public funds under the pretext of donations where public entities made numerous payments towards activities that were totally out of sync with the institutions’ line of operations,” Murapa said during the inaugural accounting and financial reporting seminar for independent commissions.
“As Zacc, we have received cases of such shameless abuse of public funds some of which are before the courts. Little or no action had been taken by the concerned institutions to preempt repetition of such activities in line with the auditor-general’s recommendations. Zacc would like to call on Parliament to unreservedly stamp its authority and use its powers to cause sanction to those found not upholding the principles related to use of and accounting for public funds.
“The AG’s reports over the years have reflected the position of corruption in the public sector.
“Year after year it shows poor or lack of controls in public institutions, creating a ready opportunity for public officials to engage in acts of corruption, fraud, theft, money-laundering and other offences,” Murapa noted.
“It is disturbing that the AG reports, which list the misdemeanours have not received the serious attention they deserve from the institutions audited.
“I say so, because according to internal audit reports received from some public institutions on implementation of the auditor-general’s recommendations we had requested revealed gross non-compliance with implementation of the auditor-general’s recommendations.
“The non-implementation of the auditor-general’s recommendations has seen millions of dollars of undelivered goods that had been identified in the…audits not being followed up and recovered.
“This resulted in a huge loss to the public entities and the taxpayers who fund these entities,” Murapa noted.
Zimbabwe’s State firms contributed about 40% to the country’s gross domestic (GDP) during the 1990s before the looting scourge worsened.
In 2020, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube said their contribution to GDP had slowed to about 12%.