Nqobile Tshili Bulawayo Bureau
Government has fired seven senior officials from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development for corruption as they connived with third parties to commit fraud. According to the Public Accounts Committee report on the findings by the Auditor-General on the 2014 appropriation accounts for the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development that was presented in the National Assembly last Thursday, 10 officials who include the Treasury’s principal director were arrested after they allegedly connived to defraud the Government of substantial amounts of money and seven of them were fired in February this year.
The total amount of money that the Government lost was not stated in the report.
“Some ministry officials were alleged to have connived with suppliers and third parties and defrauded the Government of substantial amounts of money. The permanent secretary informed the Committee that among the officials at the centre of defrauding Government, were a principal director, a deputy accountant-general, an acting deputy accountant-general, two chief accountants and five other members of staff,” said PAC chairperson, Ms Paurina Mpariwa, while presenting the report.
She said the suspects were taken to court but their cases were dismissed. The Government, however, sacked seven of them.
“The committee was also informed by the secretary that seven of the officials were dismissed on February 1, 2016 in terms of administration procedures after the courts had found them not guilty,” she said.
“One case was still being finalised and two cases were being handled by the Public Service Commission. “As a control measure, the accounting staff have been directed to take leave days regularly in order to minimise collusion.”
The PAC said the cases could be a tip of the iceberg and the Government might be losing money to fraudulent activities by officials. “The committee recommends Treasury to come up with a risk management framework by 31 September, 2016, which will allow close monitoring of high risk areas and curb losses through fraudulent activities,” said the PAC committee chairperson.
“The central role played by the Accountant General’s Office, the Civil Service Commission should, by 31 September, 2016, fill in the critical vacancies occasioned by this incident. “The staff is critical in ensuring that audit recommendations across line Ministries, parastatals and local authorities are acted upon.”