The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Parly Orders Officials to Probe Marumahoko's Accident

PARLIAMENT yesterday ordered officials in the Ministry of Regional Integration and International Co-operation to investigate an accident involving the ministry's Deputy Minister Cde Reuben Marumahoko which damaged a Government vehicle he was driving in 2009.

The ministry's Chief Accountant Mr Noah Munyoro told a parliamentary portfolio committee on public accounts that the accident was not investigated as per procedure.

He was responding to questions by Chikomba East House of Assembly representative Cde Edgar Mbwembwe on why accidents involving Government vehicles in the ministry were not being investigated.

"We have had boards of inquiry for the employees mentioned and various punishments have been given out," said Mr Munyoro.

"We have a challenge, however, in relation to boards of inquiry for honourable ministers, where we are told it has to be done by the Office of the President and Cabinet.

"Deputy Minister Marumahoko had an accident with a BT50 truck and it (board of inquiry) has not been done."

The permanent secretary in the ministry Mr Tadeous Chifamba said they had difficulties in convening a hearing for their superior.

"We have sought guidance from the Comptroller and Auditor General on this matter and it is listed as one of the items that is pending," he said.

"The problem we have is that we are dealing with one of our bosses, that is why it has to be done at that level (Office of the President and Cabinet)."

The committee chairman Mr Weber Chinyadza disputed the assertions by Mr Chifamba, saying as the accounting officer in the ministry, he should have investigated the matter as required by law.

"The regulations are clear on what should have been done and as the accounting officer you should have instituted the board of inquiry," he said.

"We expect you to follow up on the matter and brief us on how the matter has gone."

Mr Chifamba promised to furnish the committee with details of the investigations by Friday next week.

The committee also grilled the officials after they issued contradicting statements on policy issues.

This was after Mr Munyoro and the director of finance Mr Taona Chaparadza contradicted each other over the existence of a policy on fuel consumption.

Mr Chaparadza had indicated that there was no policy on fuel consumption in the ministry, while Mr Munyoro said the permanent secretary had issued a directive on consumption limits.

Mr Munyoro had also incensed parliamentarians when he claimed that he had not seen the 2009 audit reports.

"There is no department which exists without expenditure limits, so for anyone to come to this committee and say there is no limit is very disrespectful, maybe he wants to be a law unto himself," Mr Chinyadza said.

On the audit report Mr Chinyadza said: "The report is there and should be read and for someone to come and challenge it here is totally unacceptable. It means you have no respect for the Comptroller and Auditor General and the offices where the report is taken to."

Mr Chifamba apologised over the conduct of his officers.

"Allow me to thank you for the opportunity and allow me to tender my apology for the way we appeared short," he said.

"We will ensure that we come back next week. We will ensure that we respond to the reports and we will do so in a manner that is respectful."

Goromonzi representative Cde Beatrice Nyamupinga then proposed that the meeting be adjourned to allow the officials to study the reports before returning with detailed answers.

The committee expressed disappointment with the ministry for failing to keep proper accounts records, an issue Mr Chifamba attributed to resource constraints since the ministry was established at the formation of the inclusive Government.

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