Zimbabwe’s legislators, who have been calling for greater accountability from the executive to curb the growing menace of corruption, are no better themselves.
Ministry of Justice officials said they were not able to check on projects that some of the legislators claimed to have embarked on under the Constituency Development Fund after being threatened by the Members of Parliament.
The officials said they complained about the threats to the then Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Eric Matinenga, who belonged to the Movement for Democratic Change, to no avail.
The Constituency Development Fund was established by the inclusive government in 2010 for the development of constituencies to alleviate poverty and improve the standards of living for all Zimbabweans through developmental projects
However, according to a report by Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee, the accounts of the CDF received a disclaimer of opinion which implies that the auditor could not obtain sufficient appropriate audit evidence to provide a basis for an opinion.
The committee said that the Ministry of Justice did not produce bank certificates for 53 constituencies raising doubt on the accuracy of the bank balance of $7 964 543 disclosed in the financial statements.
The bank statements produced for audit examination accounted for $4 921 491 leaving a balance of $3 043 052 unsupported resulting in a suspense account being created for the balance.
“The Ministry confirmed that the 53 constituencies had not submitted bank statements at the time of audit. However, the internal audit subsequently audited 44 of the 53 constituencies leaving out nine constituencies which had no bank statements,” committee chairperson Paurina Mpariwa said.
“The Committee was informed that Constituency Committees headed by National Assembly Members of Parliament were responsible for the administration of the CDF funds and the Ministry had no role.”
Ministry officials, however said that they encountered a lot of resistance as they tried to audit some of the constituencies.
The committee said that the Members of Parliament who resisted the audit of the funds were in violation of the provisions of the Section 80 (3) (a) of the Public Finance Management Act [Chapter 22:19] which requires internal auditors to have free access at all reasonable times to any records, books, vouchers, documents and public resources under the control of the Ministry or reporting unit concerned.
Continued next page