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Mines Minister Chitando accused of flip-flopping over public funds

Mines Minister Winston Chitando has been accused of failing to avail annual performance reports to the Auditor-General for audit and scrutiny, raising suspicions of his ministry not being transparent with public funds.

The ministry was allocated ZWL1 399 000 000 (US$12 037 037) according to the exchange rate of the year ended December 31, 2021) last year by Treasury.

But in her audit report for the year ended December 31, 2021, Auditor-General Mildred Chiri noted that Chitando’s ministry did not submit financial reports making it difficult for her to account for the money used.

“The Ministry of Mines and Mining Development did not submit for audit the Annual Performance Reports for the year ended December 31, 2021.

“I was therefore unable to assess the Ministry’s achievement of the targets set in the Strategic Plan and its contribution to the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1),” she said.

Auditor General Mrs Mildred Chiri
Auditor General Mrs Mildred Chiri

Chiri added that she was also not availed with minutes of meetings held during the period by management on programmes being implemented.

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“In the absence of periodic progress and annual reports it would be difficult to monitor and evaluate the Ministry’s planned goals and objectives set in the Strategic Plan.

“If deliberations in the management meetings are not documented, planned actions and follow-ups cannot be done effectively without minutes of management meetings.”

This is not the first time Chitando’s Ministry is failing to release reports.

Chiri noted that the fund did not submit the breakdown or ledgers to support the expenditure figures disclosed in the financial statements, amounting to ZWL7 371 128 and ZWL24 431 251 for the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2020 respectively.

“The expenditure line items in the Public Financial Management System were different from the line items on the financial statements. Furthermore, notes to the financial statements for 2019 were not provided. I could not therefore verify the accuracy and completeness of these amounts in the absence of the supporting documents,” read the report.

She feared that expenditure figures may be “misstated”.

Chiri recommended that: “The Ministry should provide the breakdown of the figures posted to the financial statements and also align the items according to the PFMS layout for ease of reference and posting.”

When the ministry management was asked to respond to the issue by Chiri, they stated:

“The Mines and Mining Development Fund budgets for the year 2019 and 2020 were in the PFMS (public financial management system) . The expenditure was being done through the system and as such, the general ledgers are in the system. The ledgers can be viewed under the cost centre for the Mines and Mining Development Fund.”