HARARE – The Office of the President and Cabinet has failed to account for over $12 000 in funds it had allocated to an unnamed official for travel to India.
The financial improprieties in President Robert Mugabe’s office Appropriation Account has been revealed by an auditor-general (AG) investigation.
The report was made public last week after it was tabled in the National Assembly.
Auditor-general Mildred Chiri said Mugabe’s office had failed to provide the executive committee acquittal for the expense.
Although management in the President’s Office provided an explanation, the AG found evidence that “the funds might not have been used for the intended purposes if no acquittal nor recovery is done.”
The report described Mugabe’s office’s response to be inadequate and Chiri further stated: “The office should ensure that the outstanding amount is cleared and robust dunning procedures are adopted.”
According to the President’s Office, the officer was discharged from service on May 31, 2015 before she had accounted for the Travelling and Subsistence advance.
“We have been trying to contact her so that she could bring a copy of her passport without success. We will submit information as soon as she has been located,” Mugabe’s office said in its management response.
Among the AG findings were that Treasury regulations were flouted by Mugabe’s office.
Other improprieties uncovered by the AG investigation were that there were no specific details about where and how the money was spent, with the unnamed official profiting from taxpayer money. The President’s Office, also, did not have an Audit Committee during the year under review as required by provisions of the Public Finance Management Act (Chapter 22:19) section 84 (i) and (ii).
Travelling on government business is many an official’s wish because of the allowances and other privileges it comes with, and enjoy the privilege of re-entering the country without being searched.
“I noted that an amount of $12 805 for Foreign Travel and Subsistence allowance issued to one of the officers on March 13, 2015 for a trip to India, has been long outstanding, with no evidence that the advance was ever acquitted.
“This was contrary to Treasury Instruction 1504 which stipulates that advances should be cleared immediately upon return from official travel by the member so advanced.
“Treasury Instruction 1505 also directs that any outstanding advance should be deducted from the member’s salary until the whole advance is cleared.
“The non-recovery can be attributed to lack of robust dunning procedures,” Chiri’s latest report for the year-ended December 31, 2015 said.
The details that have emerged do not make it clear what the trip was designed for, but used funds from the government.
According to figures released under the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) last month, government splurged $44,9 million on the Office of the President and Cabinet in the period between January and November 2016 against a budgeted $20,7 million on foreign trips.