Calls for the release of the Auditor Generals’ 2019 report have intensified amid accusations that the government was deliberately delaying the process in fear that the report contained damaging contents.
The report was supposed to be submitted to Parliament in June last year but is still not yet out with authorities citing the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic as the major impediment.
Previous reports by the Auditor General, Midred Chiri, exposed grand corruption by the majority of public institutions.
The former Minister of Finance and Economic Development during the Government of National Unity (GNU), Tendai Biti, said despite delays by the pandemic, the report should have been released by now. He said:
Audit reports should be released on time as stipulated in the Public Finance Management Act to guarantee public finance accountability.
Citizens need to know how their money is being utilised and they can monitor it through the Auditor-General’s report. Failure to provide the report for public scrutiny is, therefore, unconstitutional.
His remarks were echoed by Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum’s executive director Musa Kika who said it had become the norm that government-run institutions failed to provide public reports timeously, which resulted in public financial losses going unchecked. Kika said:
Delay of the AG’s report exposes accountability and transparency deficits in an office that is supposed to exert accountability on others. These reports are for the public, who are the stockholders of public power and public resources, and must always have occasion to inspect them.
Unfortunately, this appears to be a standing practice with many State-affiliated or constitutional offices that do not take time stipulations for release of reports seriously.
NewsDay contacted President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s spokesperson, George Charamba, to comment on the delays in the release of the report and he said the Auditor General’s office was better positioned to respond to the questions.