AG raises red flag over unrecovered $133 million rent

AUDITOR-GENERAL Mildred Chiri has raised the red flag over different ministries which she said failed to recover amounts due to government to the tune of $133 million in rent, surcharges and penalties at a time when most ministries complained of inadequate budgets to fund their programmes.

BY VENERANDA LANGA

This was revealed in the AG’ 2017 audited report of fund accounts which were tabled in the National Assembly by Finance minister Mthuli Ncube where Chiri said there was lack of effort to collect the amounts due.

“Various ministries and their fund accounts were not putting more effort to recover amounts due to the government to the tune of $133 897 975 which is in the form of rent due, surcharges, disallowances and penalties,” Chiri said.

“During the current period under review the debtors increased to $133 897 975 by 46% compared to the 2016 figure of $91 409 864.”

Chiri said the huge balances were related to the Ministry of Health and Child Care with an amount of $26 981 166 and the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education with $24 296 475. She also raised concern over the manner in which ministries and fund accounts purchased goods and services without following tender procedures, with the violations occurring mostly in the purchase of motor vehicles, fuel and equipment.

“In one ministry, 12 motor vehicles purchased were not delivered. A total of $3 788 495 was spent without following formal tender procedures. Out of the figure, 38% of the amount is attributable to Zimbabwe Development Fund (Zimdef) who incurred expenditure under the Science Technology Education Module (STEM) which claimed to have procured goods and services on the strength of a directive from the parent Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education.”

On Zimdef, Chiri’s report also pointed out that visits to polytechnic colleges revealed that the colleges were no longer getting funds for equipment (last received in 2015), consumables (2016), and the Bachelor of Technology allowances were not received at Kwekwe Polytechnic by the end of March 2017.

“The lectures were more of theory than practical due to non-availability of consumables,” she said.

Her report also revealed that Zimdef purchased 10 Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge cellphone handsets worth $10 450 as gifts for the ministers’ aides and drivers.

“The purchase was not in line with the mandate of the fund which is to finance the development of critical and highly skilled manpower in Zimbabwe, and the risk is misappropriation of funds,” she said.

Chiri also said Zimdef paid a number of suppliers for the services rendered for STEM, however, there was no evidence to support that the procurement procedures were followed since the directive to pay these suppliers was from the Ministry of Higher Education.