The Deputy Prime Minister's Office in Swaziland is in a financial mess; money is given to those who do not deserve it and withheld from those who do, overtime payments have been made fraudulently and rents not collected.
This is contained in the annual report of the Auditor General.
The DPM Office oversees the kingdom's national policy that supports effect delivery of Government services, 'through a well-coordinated decentralized system with a special emphasis on a comprehensive social welfare system, gender mainstreaming, children issues as well as proactive disaster preparedness', according to the report.
The report which covers the year ending March 2017 stated there are no working guidelines on how to award disability grants yet the DPM's Office gave out of E12.46 million (about US$1 million) to the three years ending March 2016.
The Auditor General reported Section 4.3 (iv) of the National Disability Policy of 2013 required Government to develop guidelines on how people with disabilities, who live below the poverty line, will access funds in various development schemes, including the assessment criteria to qualify for support from the grant. 'Presently, eligibility assessment and screening of disabled citizens are conducted by Social Workers,' the report stated.
The Auditor General reported, 'However, without guidelines, deserving disabled people may be omitted from the list of beneficiaries whilst undeserving beneficiaries may receive disability grants.'
It added, 'Guidelines should include an independent assessment of the disabled citizens' health condition, by a competent medical specialist, so that only eligible persons benefit from the grant.'
The Auditor General reported E228,720 was paid to non-deserving beneficiaries without the approval of Social Workers.
There are also weak internal controls in the management of Welfare Grants. 'The payment system was able to accept beneficiaries straight from the communities without involving Social Welfare Officers, yet the regulations require that Social Welfare Officers should authorise eligible beneficiaries,' the report stated.
Audit of Payroll
The Auditor General found a number of irregularities with salary payments. An amount of E16,507.71 was wrongfully paid as overtime allowances to two 'undeserving' accounting officers who allegedly performed overtime duties at the Trade Fair in 2014. 'The original request did not bear the names of the two accounting officers whilst the one attached to their payments had their names fraudulently inserted,' the report stated. Names were also 'fraudulently inserted' in a list of payments 'which had the endorsement of the Principal Secretary'.
The report also stated, 'The supervisors of the Trade Fair duties, at the Deputy Prime Minister's Office, were unaware about duties that would have required accounting officers to work overtime during the course of the Trade Fair in 2014.'
The Auditor General stated, 'I am concerned that Government's control measures were intentionally flouted.'
Rent deduction and housing allowance
It seemed some officers who lived in Government houses did not pay rent which by regulation should be deducted from salaries. Some who lived in private accommodation did not receive due allowances. This affected people in a number of grades, including social welfare officer, messenger, maid and labourer.
The Auditor General stated, 'I raised my concern to the Controlling Officer that rentals due to government for the housing benefit may not have been collected, thus subjecting Government to a loss and furthermore, that Government may have been deprived of tax revenue in respect of the housing benefit, in cases where the officers were housed by Government.'
Massive financial mismanagement
The financial mismanagement at the DPM's Office are not unique. The Auditor General reported the Swaziland Government's bank accounts had been miscalculated by more than E7.5 billion (US$632.1 million).
The Auditor general reported 'bank balances were misstated by E7,528,772,278.72 due to non-reconciliation between the government cash books and bank statements. Some bank balances were overstated by E2,285,935,191.93 and other bank account balances were understated by E5,242,837,086.79 thus reflecting an incorrect cash flow position of the Government of Swaziland at year end.'
A string of government departments and agencies have broken the law by spending tens of millions of emalangeni on vehicles and transport running costs without authority.
The Auditor General's report shows the Prime Minister's Office overspent its budget by E2.3 million (or 261 percent); the National Commissioner of Police overspent by E74.5 million (149 percent), Correctional Services E19.6 million (199 percent), Defence E26.4 million (46 percent).
The Auditor General stated, 'Over expenditures beyond the budget provision and beyond amounts that have been appropriated by Parliament are illegal and clearly violate the Appropriation Act as well as Financial and Accounting instruction 0202 (ii).'