Former Finance Minister (GNU era), Tendai Biti has accused the government of plundering a staggering US$13.2billion between 2017 and 2019 through unauthorised expenditure.
Biti made the claims while commenting on the recent report released by Auditor-General Mildred Chiri for the financial year ended December 31, 2019, on Appropriation Accounts and Fund Accounts.
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Biti who is also the Vice President of opposition MDC Alliance led by Nelson Chamisa said the “plundered” US$13.2 billion could transform Zimbabwe into an upper-middle tier economy in a short period of time.
The AG’s report has damning details on how government departments, parastatals, local councils, and other state entities looted public funds running into billions of dollars through various channels. The Auditor-General’s report reads in part:
_During the year under review, Treasury incurred unauthorised excess expenditure amounting to $6 806 340 654 as a result of unallocated reserve transfers made to line ministries amounting to $7 386 995 654. This exceeded the approved budget of $580 655 000 in contravention of section 305(5) of the Constitution._
_Treasury as the manager of the public purse did not adhere to legal provisions on the sanctioning of excess expenditure by Parliament._
_Furthermore, I noted some variances between the schedule of unallocated reserve transfers from Treasury and the received transfer schedules of the same from the individual line ministries and the variances needed to be reconciled. I raised this issue in my prior year reports and the matter is recurring._
The AG also said the Finance Ministry headed by Mthuli Ncube, made direct payments to various ministries without proper documentation, a situation that was open to manipulation.
In response to the report, Biti said Chiri’s statement “confirms what we have always known” that the President Emmerson Mnangagwa-led administration “is a rogue regime pillaging national resources.”
Biti called for forensic examination saying the plundering of US$13.2billion by the government was unacceptable especially considering that Zimbabwe was in a pariah state.
In her report, Chiri said the 2019 audit findings revealed most weaknesses emanated from governance issues and the absence of good stewardship.