PAC Summons SOEs on Non-Compliance

The Public Accounts Committee has dismissed major submissions by State-Owned Enterprises’ failure to comply with the requisite obligation to submit financial reports to the office of the Auditor General. These reasons include interruption of operations due to Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, the introduction of the RTGS currency in 2019 and exchange rate against the USD, which meant that the accounts had to be adjusted to cater for the exchange rate and shortage of staff. On Friday last week, the Public Accounts Committee met with ZIMSTAT, ZIMSEC and the National Courier Service to discuss issues pertaining to the SOEs that were raised in the Auditor General’s report of 2019.

However, the Committee cited that that the reasons proffered for the delays in the submission of accounts were not satisfactory. MPs indicated that Covid-19 restrictions were not a valid reason for the delay as staff should have worked from home. Further, the Committee argued that Parastals should have communicated the challenges to the Auditor General. On the other hand, ZIMSEC managed to provide evidence of written communication with the Auditor General that detailed reasons for delays as well as progress made periodically.

In 2019, SAPST in collaboration with the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) conducted a research on State Owned Enterprises Performance and Compliance Survey in Zimbabwe. The research covered the period 2013 to 2018. It was aimed at establishing the performance of State-Owned Enterprises and their compliance with relevant regulatory frameworks and recommendations from the Auditor General (AG) and Parliament. Findings of the survey revealed that more than 80% of the SOEs had not appeared before the relevant portfolio committees of Parliament to discuss their budget proposals for the successful financial year, in contravention of sections 299 of the Constitution. The failure by SOEs to regularly report to Parliament was partly due to lack of clarity on the roles of the numerous institutional bodies tasked with provision of oversight on the entities. This has led to lack of accountability and poor performance. Poor accountability and disclosure were also caused by some legal and compliance gaps given that laws establishing SOEs were not harmonised.