HARARE – Parliamentary committee on Public Accounts yesterday humbled and embarrassed officials from the Higher Education ministry led by their permanent secretary, Francis Gudyanga, after they came ill-prepared for a hearing.
As a result the committee’s sitting has been deferred to December 4.
The ministry failed to articulate issues surrounding a damning audit report by Auditor-General Mildred Chiri who said $1 497 136 was paid to casual employees without Public Service Commission (PSC) authority.
This prompted the committee chairperson MDC MP for Mufakose Paurina Mpariwa to adjourn the committee saying the team from the ministry was ill-prepared.
“We cannot waste time that we cannot account for, we had never sent back a committee but on this one we need to do so. Your responses are just like what you gave the AG. Please take the Parliament business seriously. We gave you ample time to do your responses, you have the AG’s report.
“You took all entourage from the ministry, there is no value addition. You need to be more serious. Put your house in order we give you up to next Monday to come back with a response,” Mupariwa said.
In her 2016, report Chiri raised questions on how $1 497 136 was paid to casual employees without PSC authority.
“The fund (amenities fund) was established through Statutory Instrument No. 868 of 1979 among other things to, “provide salary advances for staff whose salaries are in arrears”. Management used the income from the fund to employ and pay casual workers without the authority from the Public Service Commission (PSC) as the employer of all civil servants in accordance with the Public Service Act (Chapter 16:04).
“A total amount of $1 497 136 was paid to casual employees without PSC authority. The amount was therefore not authorised as required by section 21(1) of the Public Service Act.
“The ministry did not abide by the regulations regarding the engagement of workers as a result funds could be diverted from the purposes for which the Amenities Fund was established. The ministry should abide by the legislation governing the operations of the Fund,” Chiri said in her report.