FINANCE Minister Patrick Chinamasa presided over a messy accounting system while at the Justice Ministry resulting in almost one million dollars being lost to fraudulent activities, a report by the government’s Auditor General has revealed.
Auditor General Mildred Chiri’s 2013 annual report tabled before parliament in December 2014 revealed shocking anomalies and weak accounting procedures under the watch of the country’s new Treasury Chief.
“The ministry lost at least $805 974 through the payment of overpriced, non-delivered and partially delivered goods and services.
“The payments were facilitated by an employee of the ministry of finance and economic development in collaboration with employees of the ministry (of Justice). The matter is under investigation by the police,” Chiri’s report said.
Of the missing amount, the report said $574,027 was due to overpricing, $223,739 to non-delivered goods.
Some 35 prison officers were arrested for varying degrees of participation in fraud cases that were reported to police, the CID and ZPCS internal police.
“Of these six were dealt with by the police and CID except for one where the accused was acquitted,” the report said.
“The majority of the fraud cases involved procurement scandals in the purchase of prisoners’ rations and consumables in Matabeleland and Mashonaland regions respectively.
“Four others have since been tried and convicted internally. Meanwhile the rest are currently facing trial and these are at varying stages.”
While Chiri said she appreciated the ministry’s efforts in ensuring that those involved are dealt with, the prejudice to the state is yet to be recovered adding that the same department was guilty of failing to recover over half a million dollars in outstanding advances to employees some dating back to 2010.
Chiri declined to offer an audit opinion on the ministry saying: “Because of the significance of the matters described in the Basis for the Disclaimer of the Opinion paragraph above, I have not been able to obtain sufficient appropriate audit evidence to provide a basis for audit opinion.
“Accordingly I do not express an opinion on the Appropriation Account for the Ministry of Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for the year ended 31 December 2013.”
According to the Auditor General, the Justice Ministry failed to implement eight out of the 15 issues mentioned the previous audit report.
Issues that remained outstanding included violation of State procurement procedures, violation of treasury instruction 1505 by processing multiple advances to members of staff and failure to discipline staff “involved in falsification of travelling and subsistence claims”.