Auditor-General (AG) Mildred Chiri has once again tabled before Parliament explosive reports detailing the plunder of state-owned enterprises and glaring inefficiencies in government.
Comment: The Standard Editor
The highlight of this year’s reports include the fact that Zimbabwe could have been prejudiced of more than $100 million in fictitious loan repayments because of a shoddy reporting system across ministries and statutory funds.
One of Chiri’s reports noted that the exact amount of government guaranteed debts and loans extended to the state or its entities were unknown.
Shocking discoveries were made about how Treasury has failed to maintain a statement of public debt, which details loans contracted by the state.
Such revelations come a time when government’s appetite for contracting debt has grown to unsustainable levels because of the economic stagnation and the refusal to admit that the country is in a crisis.
Chiri’s report also says the Finance ministry failed to disclose the names of beneficiaries and details of purposes for loans amounting to $567,5 million.
The loans were advanced to parastatals, local authorities, statutory funds and private companies by external lenders under guarantee from the government.
In another damning report, Chiri revealed that state enterprises and parastatals flouted tender procedures when procuring millions worth of goods and services.
The AG spells out in detail the culture of impunity and lack of accountability that has hindered state-owned entities from playing their rightful role in the economy since independence.
Chiri singled out the CMED that bought fuel worth $1 million without going to tender, the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board for incurring excess escalation costs amounting to $7 million without the involvement of the State Procurement Board and the Grain Marketing Board was called out over controversial $1,5 million expenditure.
The National Railways of Zimbabwe, which has been struggling to pay employees for years now was also found to have bought goods worth $1,4 million that were not delivered.
Zesa’s subsidiary, the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) last carried out meter readings for some properties in 1984 and its negative bills amounted to $60 million.
The same ZETDC has been failing to pay electricity suppliers to a point where South Africa’s Eskom was threatening to cut off supplies to Zimbabwe.
Zesa has also been pushing for an upward review of electricity tariffs and Chiri’s reports show us that the parastatal wants long-suffering Zimbabweans to pay for its inefficiencies.
We have to reiterate that the AG’s reports, as shocking as they are, do not tell us anything new. Chiri churns out these reports annually but nothing happens after they are handed over to Parliament.
The government will pretend nothing is amiss and the looting will continue unabated. However, the onus is on legislators to stop this rot if Zimbabwe is to be rescued from the abyss.
Opposition parties and civil society need to start playing their role and expose the Zanu PF lie that Zimbabwe’s economy collapsed due to sanctions imposed by the west on President Robert Mugabe’s inner circle.
The painful truth is that the economy has been a victim of government inefficiencies and outright corruption.
State-owned institutions have become a feeding trough for ruling party officials, hence the tendency by ministers to look the other way when such brazen plunder becomes pervasive.
Chiri and her team should be applauded for not relenting in digging up the dirt and exposing our leaders for the frauds that they are.