Govt entities operating illegally, Parly told

Govt entities operating illegally, Parly told
Govt entities operating illegally, Parly told

Govt entities operating illegally, Parly told

Gweru Urban legislator Brian Dube has told the National Assembly that several government-owned entities are operating illegally due to their failure to present their books for audit.

Several parastatals have been called out by the auditor general Mildred Chiri for not presenting their books which affects issues of accountability.

However, Honourable Dube who is also the chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee said those entities are not just going against the Public Finance management Act but also the constitution of the country.

Below is the fully text of what Honourable Brian Dube during debate of the committee report on the parastatals that have failed to present their books

HON. B. DUBE: Thank you Madam Speaker for giving me the opportunity to air my view relating to the report of your Public Accounts Committee that was tabled by Hon. Sansole. The starting point is to thank Hon. Sansole for the clarity on issues and making sure that the key areas are covered.

I will start by indicating the provisions of Section 298 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe which actually calls for transparency and accountability in financial matters as a peremptory. It is mandatory that all Government institutions, entities and enterprises act and perform in a transparent and accountable manner. One such way of doing so is actually by presenting themselves to audit and making sure that their financial matters are properly audited and published by the Auditor General.

So, what does it mean for State entities not to present their financial statements and not to subject themselves to the dictates of audit? It actually means that they are acting unlawfully, illegally and unconstitutionally and in the end they are making themselves a law because the law is already there and they are violating it. If we go again to the provisions of Section 299, they give Parliament oversight of revenue and expenditure. Parliament can only oversight when information is given. Relating to these entities and enterprises that Hon. Sansole has made a report on, Parliament is unable to oversight these institutions because the finances have not been presented and availed for purposes of making sure that Parliament can follow if they are doing things the right way.

What is surprising is that all these institutions and entities fall under specific Ministries which have responsibilities to supervise them on behalf of Zimbabwe. I believe that the ball is squarely on the Ministries in question and the Ministers must explain to the nation why they are acting negligently, irresponsibly and why they are allowing the things to happen in the manner that they are happening because it is not good for the country and anyone.

We always talk about patriotism in Zimbabwe and Hon. Togarepi brought in a debate relating to the aspects of trying to regulate patriotism. I will tell you that an unpatriotic person is a person who does not submit themselves to audit. All the CEOs and board members as well as Ministries under whom the audit statement has not been presented are very unpatriotic. They do not love Zimbabwe and they are sabotaging our country because they do not want us to move forward. All patriots must be interested and keen to know how the funds of this nation are being handled.

You would wonder how a patriotic Minister would handle a parastatal under their authority going for years without a board. Without a board they are not even able to appoint external auditors to do the audit for the institution. All the Ministers who have not appointed the relevant boards to the parastatals, it is my view that they are unpatriotic and they are sabotaging the country and the efforts to make Zimbabwe work and function again.

By way of observation, most State-owned enterprises do not have adequate ICT infrastructure and therefore are unable to comply with the e-governance proposition that is required for purposes of making sure that they are efficient and effective in their duties and therefore this means that we do not have adequacy in terms of governance and performance in parastatals. Some State-owned enterprises do now have backup systems, which means their information can be easily lost and cannot be recovered. It is also clear that there are no sufficient skills in various parastatals.  Many parastatals are operating with unskilled or not adequately skilled people, which is a contradiction because Zimbabwe prides itself as one of the most educated places in the continent. You then wonder how do we then come up with such a position where we do not have the right people in right places in the parastatals.

 Legacy issues also remain a serious challenge in places such as the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Services, in this context, 2016 financial statements were signed off in 2019 and the 2017 Audit Report was signed in 2020.  So one wonders how the national broadcaster is functioning when things are operating like this.

 Delays by the Ministers to appoint boards on time such as in the Zimbabwe Youth Council and the Zimbabwe Nurses Council is a threat to corporate governance and might negatively influence the direction that is taken by the State-owned enterprises and we are left to ask what is Hon. Coventry and her team doing if the National Youth Council does not have a board on time and who is she working within the youth sector and who is giving them adequacy without such an important and key board in place. 

You also wonder why it will be done if we are serious and we have patriotic Ministers.  So, it is my submission that there is no patriotism in some of the ministries and the Ministers are sabotaging the state of Zimbabwe. 

There is also an issue that was being raised as a main challenge for some parastatals relating to accounting.  They were saying they were facing challenges as a result of the multi-currency system which was making some organisations very difficult to reconcile records in the Pastel Evolution System Version 7 data base.  So, you then find  that the Ministry of Finance is also in some way sabotaging our State-owned enterprises and entities by the contradictory and the unclear financial policies that cause it to be difficult for State-owned enterprises to run their books well.

There is also a challenge that relates to underfunding in some of the parastatals.  The parastatals are underperforming on their own, they are supposed to have been realizing profit and declaring dividends to the shareholder in form of the Government but they are saying they are failing to raise the fees even for audits as small as $4 300.  Some of the parastatals are failing to raise that amount.

So what it is demonstrating is that the current economic environment is not conducive and it has caused a lot of suffering and discord within parastatals and the parastatals are failing to discharge their mandate.

By way of recommendation, Ministers must be patriotic and must supervise the entities under them.  All those Ministers must go before the Portfolio Committees that are oversighting them and explain the reason and the justifications for failing to appoint boards on time.  The Permanent Secretary has to explain why it has been difficult to employ the right people in the parastatals.

On ICT, more funds need to be channeled towards modernisation of our governance systems.  We need to make sure that we invest in information technologies and make sure all our State-owned enterprises are technologically up to date and are able to function in terms of the current technological demands. 

We believe that by the beginning of the second quarter, I submit that the relevant Minister responsible for Information Technology must submit a report to Parliament indicating how far they have gone in terms of percentages on ICT in all ministries and all parastatals, State owned enterprises as well as even in local authorities.

There is also one recommendation that I think is important that all ministries must appoint outstanding boards as soon as possible.   The Portfolio Committees in respective ministries must make sure that they get an update on the appointment as soon as possible because this is hampering progress.

However, by and large, my point is that for us to demonstrate that we have patriotism in our parastatals and in our ministries, we must demonstrate this by having prudence in terms of financial management.  We have must have the transparency and accountability as our first indicator for being patriotic.  Slogans are not a reflection of patriotism, playing jiggles and dancing at rallies is not a demonstration of patriotism.  Patriotism can only be demonstrated by exercising transparency, accountability and prudence in financial matters that affect our people.  This will help a long way in making sure that the goal of a middle income in the country by 2030 is achieved.  It can only be achieved by patriotism and patriotism starts by being audited.  I thank you.

Govt entities operating illegally, Parly told