Zimbabwe officials resist accountancy changes

Ian Carruthers, chair of the International Public Sector Accounting Standards Board (IPSASB)
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Resistance to new standards aimed at boosting transparency in the public sector is posing “challenges” to Zimbabwe’s government, a top official has revealed.

Accountant General Daniel Muchemwa has disclosed that some senior bureaucrats are unwilling to adopt new accounting standards being introduced by the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

High implementation costs, a lack of qualified accountants and the absence of binding rules and regulations are also hampering progress, he added.

“There is the challenge of resistance where some government officials have not managed to change their mindsets in civil administration and you will realise that some still want to hold on to the past,” Muchemwa said.

He was speaking at the third meeting of the Zimbabwe International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) Working Group, which began in Harare on Tuesday.

During his campaign in last year’s elections, Mnangagwa pledged to improve transparency in governance and fight corruption in the public sector.

Ian Carruthers, chair of the International Public Sector Accounting Standards Board (IPSASB), was optimistic about Zimbabwe’s efforts to boost transparency.

“It is very important to note that the country wants to be accountable in the way in which public taxes are used,” he said.

“There is political will already in place since President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the Finance Ministry have already endorsed their signatures in support of the strategy’s implementation.”

Carruthers said that although legislation enabling progress to be made is in place, key changes are still needed.

The country’s public sector uses a cash-based accounting technique which only reflects current expenditures against cash available and does not encourage full disclosure of liabilities.

Adopting IPSAS would see Zimbabwe migrating to accrual accounting where revenue is recorded when earned and expenses are recorded when consumed.

  • Gavin O'Toole, expert on Latin America
    Gavin O’Toole

    A freelance journalist. He has written six books about Latin America and taught the politics of the region at Queen Mary, University of London. This article was first by The International Public Finance Board