Information Ministry fails to account for US$65 million in digitalisation funds
Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa’s office has failed to account for US$64 544 814 and ZWL535 916 000 funds for the purposes of implementing the digitalisation project, Auditor-General Mildred Chiri revealed in her report for the year ended December 31, 2021.
Chiri said, at the completion of her report, the Ministry had not availed progress reports on its monitoring of the digitalisation project activities to justify the amounts disbursed.
“The Ministry disbursed to the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) funds amounting to USD64 544 814 from 2015 to 2018 and ZWL535 916 000 from 2019 to 2021 for the purposes of implementing the digitalisation project,” she said.
Mutsvangwa was appointed to her cabinet position in 2017 so some of the disbursements were done before she was in office.
“According to the Ministry, its role and responsibilities on the implementation of the digitalisation project was that of supervising the activities for the project and lobbying for funds for the project from Treasury while that of the BAZ was of implementing and managing the project.
“The Ministry did not avail to audit progress reports on its monitoring of the digitalisation project activities. The implementation of the digitalisation project was commenced in 2015 and was still ongoing as at the time of audit in June 2022.”
She added that failure to avail progress reports would create a risk of projects taking too long to be completed and funds for the project may be used for other purposes if monitoring of activities for the projects under implementation are not done.
She recommended that the Ministry prioritise monitoring and evaluation of running projects to ensure completion and identification of any challenges with the aim of mitigating them.
In their response to the auditor, Ministry management said: “Audit observation and recommendation is acknowledged. The Ministry now has a department for Strategic Policy Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation to systematically track projects and programme implementation. In future, your recommendations will be implemented.”
Chiri also raised a red flag against the Ministry for failing to implement the recommendations she made in her last report. She said out of three findings, one was fully addressed and two (2) were not addressed.