MUTARE– Government’s failure to meet its own deadline to publish the Auditor General (AG) report for the year 2019 has worried stakeholders pushing for transparent management of the national purse.
The Auditor General, Mildred Chiri was expected to have submitted the 2019 Audit Report to the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Professor Mthuli Ncube before the 30th of June.
This is in accordance to Section 32 (3) (b) of the Public Finance Management Act, which demands that the Annual Auditor General’s Report must present the state of affairs of every Ministry, public entity or constitutional entity, as the case may be.
Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) said public sector auditing remains a foundation for the realization of sound public sector governance, describing the delay as unfortunate.
“We are already in April 2021, citizens are still unaware of the state of public finance management in public entities and constitutional entities,” said ZIMCODD.
ZIMCODD said only through assessment of public sector financial statements by auditors can state owned entities improve to promote good governance, public accountability, transparency, integrity, efficiency and effectiveness in all matters and decisions involving public funds.
“Above all, public sector auditing plays a crucial role in ascertaining whether public funds are being utilised for the attainment of set goals and objectives.
“…citizens are still unaware of how public funds were utilised during the 2019 financial year. According to the Auditor General’s Office, the delayed release of the 2019 Audit Report is largely attributed to the COVID-19 induced lockdown which posed operational challenges in the collation and assessments of financial statements,” said ZIMCODD.
In an analysis of the development ZIMCODD said the delay could imply that the 2020 Audit Report will overtake and overshadow the 2019 Report findings.
The social economic justice organization said it was worrying given the trend of misappropriation of public funds, financial irregularities, unreconciled and unaccounted expenditure and lack of value for money in general.
“This has a negative bearing on the implementation of the Audit Findings by the responsible ministries, government departments and local authorities.
“Despite the role of public sector auditing in curbing public sector corruption through supporting the governance responsibilities of oversight institutions like the Parliament and other accountability institutions, it is worrying to note that to date, Zimbabweans have no sight of the 2019 Auditor General’s Report.
“There is high likelihood that the financial irregularities and malpractices which occurred in 2019 have been repeated in the 2020 financial year and probably also in the current 2021 financial year. One of the major aims of the public audit is to detect cases of public finance mismanagement and proffer recommendations of addressing those anomalies.
“The anomalies in the 2019 financial year are not yet publicized and this is breeding ground for repeated cases of public financial misconduct. We are therefore calling upon the Auditor General to immediately publish the 2019 Audit findings without further delay,” reads part of the analysis.