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AG’s graft findings for 2016 at a glance

The Auditor-General’s Office last week released three sets of reports that exposed massive corruption in government and financial leakages amounting to millions of dollars last year alone.

BY VENERANDA LANGA

The Auditor-General Mildred Chiri blamed the leakages on deliberate deviation from laid down procurement regulations, lack of corporate governance and a litany of cases of financial indiscipline in several ministries, State enterprises and parastatals.

The report was tabled in Parliament on Wednesday and all eyes are now on the government, as it has failed to act on previous damning findings by Chiri’s office.

Below are some of the major highlights of the three voluminous reports:

l Construction of a new runway at Harare International Airport was inflated by $13,6 million without approval from Treasury. Two officials at the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (Caaz) accepted vehicles from a contractor, while a truck meant for the Victoria Falls Airport project turned up at a gold mine in Bindura.

Chiri said a contract awarded by Caaz for the rehabilitation of the Harare International Airport runway was priced at $22 million in 2009 but by 2015, the price had inexplicably risen to $35,7 million.

l State enterprises and parastatals (SEPs) were struggling with over $1 billion in legacy debts to the extent that it was now threatening their viability. TelOne had a $99 million debt by December 2015, Zimbabwe Power Company ($324 million as of 2014), National Railways of Zimbabwe ($276,4 million), Caaz ($174,3 million), Zesa ($65, 3 million) and NetOne ($55, 6 million).

l Some parastatals are owed millions by debtors and were not making serious efforts to recover the money. For example, the National Social Security Authority is owed in excess of $217 million which might compromise payments of pensions.

l SEPs and ministries were failing to follow good corporate governance, with ministries incurring almost $22 million expenses that were not supported by source documents, resulting in differences between expenditure amounts reflected by the Public Finance Management System and that of the Sub-Paymaster General Accounts for seven ministries. The money involved was nearly $71 million.

l Information Communication Technology minister Supa Mandiwanzira was implicated in a car loan scam where his ministry got loans amounting to $10 million, $194 564 and $95 000 from the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe for acquisition of government’s shareholding in Telecel. Some of the money was used to buy Mandiwanzira and his deputy Win Mlambo new vehicles.

l Some ministries failed to pay over $53 million for goods and services received, against instructions that they should pay as soon as possible.

l The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority in 2014 incurred substantial expenditure of $2,4 million that was not supported by documentation, which could imply loss due to fraud and payment of fictitious suppliers.

l 160 headmasters, deputy headmasters and teachers were found to be absent from their schools without official leave of absence. Forty-eight school heads, 10 deputy headmasters and 106 teachers were not available on the day of the head counts.

l 12 500 government workers providing services were not on the payroll. The government dolls out $85 million on the suspected ghost workers annually.
l An additional 3 500 ghost workers on government payroll and drawing $21 million are not accounted for.

l Ninety-six percent of the ghost workers are from the Primary and Secondary Education ministry.

l Most Local Authorities are not up-to-date with their audited financial accounts, with Harare City Council having failed to account for $201 million, Mutare City Council had unsupported bank withdrawals of $44 284, Kwekwe failed to account for $2,5 million, Gweru Municipality failed to justify transactions entered into with one of their councillors’ companies worth $10 000, and Chegutu had unexplained variances of $177 000.

l Zesa Training Centre’s performance was found to be dismal at 10% capacity utilisation and incurred a $411 311 loss in 2013 and $917 403 in 2014.
l Hwange Power Station was found to be emitting too much sulphur causing ash dams that affected the nearby residential area, Ingagula Township.  ZPC suggested that the township must be relocated.

l CMED in 2014 paid $36 793 as board members’ allowances for board and committee meetings, which was not approved by the Transport minister.

l Zupco buses were fined $393 705 in 2013 and $806 118 in 2014 for operating without spare tyres, route permits, certificates of fitness and insurance cover, which registered a 105% increase in fines and compromised travellers.

l Zupco’s Southern Division had no written approvals for discounts given to the Local Government ministry for hire of buses amounting to $3 809.

l POSB board of directors in 2015 were paid $500 per sitting without documentary evidence to support that the allowances were approved by the minister.

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