Auditor General’s department understaffed

Mildred Chiri

The Auditor General’s department is understaffed, resulting in it relying on chartered accountants who provide consultancy services, the Auditor-General Mrs Mildred Chiri has said.

She said this recently during the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Zimbabwe (ICAZ) centennial congress gala dinner in Victoria Falls.

“You as CAs (chartered accountants) are of great help to the public sector, particularly to my office,” said Mrs Chiri.

“Currently my office does not have the capacity to audit all public entities in the public sector. We audit 33 ministries (and) in addition, there are 92 local authorities and there are about 107 parastatals.

“My staff complement is not enough to cover all those areas so I have been leveraging on your capacity and expertise and for that I am truly grateful.”

Mrs Chiri also said she was glad that a number of chartered accountants who are ready to assist Government in various ways had put forward their names in the database at the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC).

Some of the chartered accountants are keen to join boards of parastatals, provide consultancy services and expertise.

Mrs Chiri said chartered accountants’ interest to work with Government will “go a long way to build the Zimbabwe that we want and to make sure that Zimbabwe prospers”.

President Mnangagwa, who was guest of honour during the ICAZ gala dinner, says Government will seriously consider having chartered accountants sitting on boards for State-owned Enterprises (SOEs) to strengthen their oversight role.

The President said this in a speech read on his behalf by Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa.

“I am made to understand that although 73,6 percent of the board members in Zimbabwe are ICAZ members, there are very few of them sitting on State-owned Enterprises (boards).

“I am aware that some of the ICAZ members have offered to serve on these boards. Government will seriously consider this request so that we can strengthen our SOEs’ boards,” said President Mnangagwa.

Chartered accountants have expressed interest to sit on parastatals’ boards to help transform their operations, which have generally remained murky.

Government is determined to strengthen the operations of parastatals, which have largely dependent on annual funding from treasury despite having potential to make profit.

There is suspicion that board members and senior executives are deliberately running down parastatals while enriching themselves.

However, the recent passing of the Public Entities Corporate Governance Act, which among other things provides for performance-based remuneration and guides the number of times boards should sit, is expected to bring sanity in the way SOEs operate.

The law came after the realisation that most parastatals were being siphoned of resources by both board members and senior executives who would pay themselves huge salaries and benefits even when their firms were performing badly.

The Public Entities Corporate Governance Act also forces executives of SOEs to disclose their wealth before assuming office so as to allow an audit of their wealth when they step down.

The Act was operationalised from June 8 and accompanying pieces of legislation drafted by the Attorney General have since been approved and will be approved by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development in the near future.