THE Public Accounts Committee (Pac) has called on the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) and police to investigate the abuse of US$89 million COVID-19 relief funds by government officials.
The committee also recommended a forensic audit to recover millions of dollars after tabling in Parliament on Tuesday its report on the abuse of the COVID-19 funds.
“The committee’s recommendations to the ministries and those issues referred to Zacc and Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) should be taken seriously. Generally, the committee was concerned about the laxity in maintaining records,” part the report presented by proportional representation MP Memory Mbondiah
“Sadly, ministries in general could not provide ready answers to the committee’s questions. Equally disturbing is the fact that despite ministry officials’ undertakings to submit the required information within mutually agreed timeframes, this was not complied with leaving the committee with no option, but to finalise this report without the information sought.”
The committee analysed Auditor-General Mildred Chiri’s 2021 report which exposed gross irregularities and theft of COVID-19 donations.
According to the committee, the Public Service ministry failed to account for funds and resources, including COVID-19 donations such as fuel that they received.
“On whether the ministry had recovered any money out of the improper payments made through issuance of duplicate NetOne lines, the accounting officer indicated that they had not yet recovered any, but they were waiting for COVID-19 restrictions to be relaxed before sending their internal auditors,” Mbondiah said.
“The explanation from the ministry was not satisfactory… the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare should institute the process of recovering improperly paid allowances from the beneficiaries.”
COVID-19 allowances were supposed to be paid to small-to-medium enterprises and vulnerable persons including people with disabilities, the elderly and chronically ill.