ZIMBABWE’S statistics agency has been rocked by reports of grand corruption involving senior management, with the entity said to be losing millions of dollars to systematic corruption.
This comes as the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStat) faces a lawsuit for failing to pay enumerators who took part in the national census in April this year.
Whistleblowers in the agency have filed a report with the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc), citing widespread graft at the institution.
According to the report, the agency is allegedly being creamed off of millions of dollars in unexplained expenditure and corruption by its top management, with employees seen as being nosy for speaking out against the mismanagement being transferred or fired from their jobs.
This was reportedly costing the agency millions in labour-related disputes as the agency is dragged to court over unfair dismissals.
“ZimStat management is heartless and not considerate because people are being transferred, harassed and fired everyday under unethical and unprofessional circumstances. The agency is losing more funds through human-related issues not budgeted for,” the eight-page report filed with Zacc read.
The report was copied to the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC), chief secretary to the OPC, Misheck Sibanda, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube, auditor-general Mildred Chiri, ZimStat board and Zanu PF chairperson Oppah Muchinguri.
“ZimStat purchased Econet lines for tablets suspected to have more airtime value than the tablets they bought without knowing it. The airtime was sold to the informal market by some employees, especially relatives of top management.
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“The entity lost millions of dollars and management tried to harass enumerators, but when it was discovered that it was gross incompetence on the part of top management, they decided to put the case under shelves. This is abuse of public funds ...”
ZimsStat is an agency that was established through the Census and Statistics Act of 2007.
The operations of the agency are controlled and managed by a board.
The agency is the main source of official statistics in Zimbabwe and is mandated to play a co-ordination and supervisory role within the national statistical system.
It has the authority to certify and designate any statistics produced in the country as official statistics, having been satisfied that all the quality requirements of good statistics were met.
Whistleblowers said there was gross mismanagement and systematic looting by senior management while employees go hungry, and suppliers including enumerators go unpaid.
At one point, the agency received funding from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to purchase operational vehicles, but these were diverted to buy an expensive Land Rover for a senior executive, the report read.
“The RBZ donated money to purchase eight vehicles and 150 bikes for the agency operations ... misappropriated the funds on non-capital expenditure purchasing a SUV Land Rover 4.0 without Treasury concurrence,” the report read.
“Treasury released funds for current expenditure, including allowances but (the funds) were used to pay for laptops, furniture and other office equipment.”
According to the whistleblowers, this was contrary to the provisions of the Public Finance Management Act and tantamount to financial misconduct.
“Advance payments were done fraudulently to selected suppliers because there was no uniformity and fair treatment of all suppliers. This implies that soft loans were advanced to suppliers who had no capacity to do business with the agency,” the report added.
The whistleblowers said this was contrary to the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act.
“It is our wish that these corrupt issues and practices which have put the name of the agency and the State into disrepute be investigated independently and professionally so as to bring sanity to the agency.
“The perpetrators of these fraudulent activities must be brought before the courts of law,” the report added.
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