Government to track down officials who looted government property

Harare — Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has promised to track down those involved in pillaging of State resources ahead of the formation of the inclusive government, calling for sterner action by Parliament against those found on the wrong side of the law.

Addressing the second session of the Seventh Parliament of Zimbabwe the premier made a veiled threat on corrupt government officials who reap where they did not sow and pledged to fully support efforts by the august House to introduce transparency and accountability in government.

Mildred Chiri, the Comptroller and Auditor-General, released a damning report recently highlighting the abuse of State resources by senior government officials before the formation of the inclusive government.

The report unearthed instances where some public officials took away government vehicles without authority, including other assets such as computers and laptops.

It also revealed instances where some individuals drew as much as 5 000 litres of fuel per month.

Although Chiri did not disclose the names of the culprits, the report has brought to the fore the massive exploitation of public funds and assets by their custodians.

But on Tuesday, the Prime Minister, weighed in. He said where State resources have been misallocated, misspent or misappropriated those responsible should be brought to book by Parliament.

"In this you will have my full support. I myself stand ready to be challenged or questioned by Parliament at any time. And I expect, and will direct, all of our Ministers to do the same," he said.

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) leader said Parliament must continue to fulfill its role of holding the government to account.

"No persons in Zimbabwe should consider themselves, nor act, above scrutiny or accountability. As the leader of government business in Parliament, I will strive to make government accountable," he said.

The MDC-T president who is responsible for both policy formulation and policy implementation in the inclusive government also took the opportunity to unveil what he called the Government’s Work Programme for the fiscal year 2010.

He said under his watch, the government will instill budgetary discipline within the government and introduce greater accountability and fiscal rigour among all ministries.

"Already, in line with our first priority, this government has put in place an agricultural inputs scheme to benefit communal farmers with the kind assistance of non governmental organisations and international donors," he said.

"Over the past two months, we have also turned these government priorities and objectives into measurable targets, to which we will commit ourselves as a government. Learning lessons from the past 10 months, the Ministries have been working with my office to produce targets that will meet the following criteria: They will reflect all the inclusive government’s priorities, including, for example, the commitments contained in the Global Political Agreement; The targets will be SMART — that is, Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound; and These SMART targets flow naturally from the objectives, which in turn flow from the five priorities I just outlined. Together, these priorities, objectives and targets form the basis of the Government’s Work Programme."

The premier said the Government’s Work Programme will form the basis for the legislative agenda, which, after it has been approved by the Council of Ministers and Cabinet, he will present to Parliament early in the new year.

"I see this partnership (between executive and legislature) as a combination of ‘push’ and ‘pull’: with me pushing and you pulling the government at all levels," he added. FinGaz