Zim land records in a shambles

June 24, 2021

AG raises red flag

RUTENDO RORI

Zimbabwe’s land records are in a shambles amid revelations that the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works’ records for land sold to various land developers and local authorities are incomplete, creating a haven of criminal activities, Auditor –General’s latest report shows.

Auditor general Mildred Chiri

Auditor-General Mildred Chiri said the shambolic record keeping made it difficult for her to verify debts. The situation could have resulted in the government losing millions of dollars in potential revenue from the sale of the land.

Chiri raised the red flag. She said the ministry’s State land department should be computerised. The AG also said State land debtors’ records should be authentic and reliable.

“The register for stands at the Ministry’s department of lands housed at Mukwati Building was not computerised. The Ministry was using a manual system to record all the State land to various land developers and local authorities, and this involved a lot of paperwork. Furthermore, the manual records were incomplete and outdated. This made it difficult to verify the debts owed by State and land debtors,” Chiri said in the report.

She added: “Financial statements may be misstated by the inaccurate figures disclosed as State land debtors. A manual system to record all the State land is prone to human manipulation and this may affect the accuracy of financial information.

“The Ministry should consider computerizing operations of the state land department and ensure that state land debtors’ records are authentic and reliable.”

Chiri also noted irregularities on devolution expenditure where a significant variance amounting to ZWL$202 000 was noted.

“The Appropriation Account submitted for audit had expenditure amounting to ZWL$649 758 860 under Constitutional and Statutory Appropriations whilst the consumed budget as per the Public Finance Management System ledger revealed an amount of ZWL$649 556 860 resulting in an unexplained variance of ZWL$202 000. The accuracy of the figure reported could not be validated in the absence of reconciliation.

“This was contrary to the provisions of section 53 of the Public Finance Management (Treasury Instructions), 2019 which requires that all payments made are appropriately authorised, all transactions are accurate and complete and there is adequate supporting documentation.

“The Financial Statements could have been materially misstated. The Ministry should reconcile the reported devolution expenditure with the PFMS figures.”

On Procurement of goods, Chiri said a sample of payment vouchers for fuel procurement from various offices showed absence of sufficient supporting source documents in the form of receipts, procurement minutes, and comparative schedules and goods received notes.

“The fuel comprised 26 431 litres of diesel and 15 699 litres of blend with a total value of $515 200. I could not establish whether such expenditure was properly incurred. This was contrary to the provisions of Section 53 of the Public Finance Management (Treasury Instructions), 2019 which requires all payments made to be appropriately authorised, all transactions to be accurate and complete and to ensure that there is adequate supporting documentation.”

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