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“Mari Yakaendepi?”, Office of the President Red-Flagged Over Missing Funds!

Harare | The Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) has been notified by Acting Auditor-General Rheah Kujinga of funds that were moved to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s home province of the Midlands and Bulawayo but could not be accounted for.

The state’s top office, the Office of Public Counsel, is in charge of organising, directing, and overseeing the creation, carrying out, overseeing, and assessing public policy.

The OPC is also in charge of programmes and programmes aimed at improving people’s lives, sustainable development, and economic progress.

In the Appropriation Accounts, Finance and Revenue Statements, and Fund Accounts for the year ended December 31, 2022, submitted to Parliament, Kujinga, however, stated that she was unable to monitor the use of funds totalling ZW$108 900 000 that were given to the Midlands provincial office by the OPC.

The acting AG added that she was unable to track down an additional payment of ZW$120 038 449 that the OPC had made to the provincial office in Bulawayo.

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“The Office (OPC) disbursed funds from the Sub-PMG account to the Provincial Affairs and Devolution Offices bank accounts for monthly operations,” according to a portion of Kujinga’s report. The Provincial Affairs Office and the Devolution Offices received total disbursements of ZW$108 900 000 and ZW$93 825 439, respectively, during my visits to Midlands and Bulawayo.

“However, release letters outlining the funds’ intended use were not included with the disbursements.”

Kujinga emphasised the concern by stating that there’s a chance the money wasn’t used for what was planned, which would have an impact on the OPC’s ability to provide services.

“Release letters providing instructions on how the funds should be utilised should accompany OPC Head Office disbursements to Provincial Offices,” stated Kujinga.

She also lamented the lack of strict controls over the money that the OPC distributed to provincial offices.

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“To enable consistency and accurate financial information as well as to adhere to controls set by government,” she stated, “the OPC head office should ensure that all provincial affairs and devolution offices must process their transactions in the PFMS.”

The acting AG made this statement after pointing out that payments of ZW$93 825 439 and ZW$120 038 449, respectively, from the Provincial Affairs and Devolution Offices in Bulawayo and Midlands were handled outside of the PFMS.

The Public Finance Management (Treasury Instructions), 2019 section 36(5) states that accounting officers must make sure that all proposed expenditures for their ministries are in line with the budget and that all transactions are recorded in the Public Financial Management System (PFMS). This was in violation of that section.

Since PFMS guarantees responsibility and transparency in the use of public monies, it comes highly recommended.

“To capture expenditure in the PFMS, the Office (OPC) should have used kiosks that were established in Provinces,” Kujinga stated.

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She stated that the OPC might not be able to completely account for expenses incurred by provincial offices if transactions are not captured in the PFMS.

The OPC’s audited financial accounts covered the fiscal year that concluded on December 31, 2022.

They consist of the revenue and finance statements, the appropriation account, and additional supporting returns.

ZW$79 546 799 000 was the total amount of funds allotted to the OPC during the year under review.

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