29 January 2013

Zimbabwe: False Overtime Claims Bleed Ministry, Says Audit Report

THE Ministry of Mines and Mining Development could have been prejudiced of over US$20 000 in false overtime claims by employees. The office of the Auditor and Comptroller General in its report for the ministry's annual accounts of 2009 and 2010 noted that US$23 160 was claimed by its employees although there was no evidence of any work having been done.

Mines and Mining Development secretary Mr Prince Mupazviriho and other senior officials appeared before the Parliament's Public Accounts Portfolio Committee where they were grilled on failure to adhere to basic accounting procedures.

Director of Finance Mrs Olivia Mwamlowe, however, refuted the allegations.

"It is not true to say that no work was done. It is general knowledge that Government accounts were behind between 2009 and 2011 and people had to work in the evenings and during weekends (as overtime) to bring them up to date," she said.

The committee chairperson Mr Weber Chinyadza, however, said the Comptroller and Auditor General's office would not have raised the concern if work was really done.

"We want a full report on whether there was no fraud involved with this sum, go and account for it and if there are people who were abusing it we want to know who they are," he said.

The committee also raised concern that the ministry did not have a proper asset register as noted in the report.

"The ministry maintained a register for all its assets during the period in question. Physical counting of all assets was done to ensure that what was registered was the same as contained in the departmental registers.

"What was not in place was a master asset register," she said.

Mr Mupazviriho said failure to maintain a proper asset register was a result of fraudulent activities by four employees dismissed last year.

"Like I said before the people that were dismissed were working in the administration department and that is where the register should have been done," he said.

The four were fired for various misdemeanours including the disappearance of receipts and fuel coupons register at the ministry.

Mr Mupazviriho said mining commissioners in the Midlands and Harare had also been suspended pending investigations into irregular issuance of mining licences.

"We are making sure that where there was irregular issuance of certificates we cancel that certificate," he said.

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