Police grilled re Z$8,6 billion (26-06-07)

Brendon Tulani
HARARE -The Home Affairs ministry has failed to account for $8.6 billion ($8.6 million revalued) in advances to senior police oficers and other junior members for the past three years.
This has raised suspicion from the Comptroller and Auditor General and members of a parl

iamentary probe that the money could have been misappropriated by senior offficers.
The report made available to parliamentarians on the committe raps shoddy accounting practices on a number of funds
To mask the anomally, ministry officials reconfigured the block grant to a Police Procurement Fund without Treasury approval. The police Procurement Fund (PPF) has never been opertional since inception in December 2004
‘We understand from the Comptroller and Auditor General report that there are people who defrauded the fund, chairman of the Parlimanetary committee on Home Affairs and Defence and opposition MP Trudy Stevenson told a parliamentary hearing probing the issue.
But Home Affairs secretary, Mike Matshiya pleaded with the committee for ‘a better appreciation of the situation..
” These are matters of deviation that may have been circumstantial. The block grant could have been clogged by other advances,’ Matshiya said.
He blamed an acute shortage of trained manpower due to an exodus of experienced staff, citing worsening conditions of service.
The difficulties in reconciling the advances appears to confirm reports, denied by the government, that there has been mass exodus from the police force owing to low salaries and other conditions of service over the past three year. The period coincides with that when police have carried out repressive measures against citizens and opposition groups.
Unconvinced by the explanation, Masvingo Senator Dzikamayi Mavhaire wondered at irony of the situation in the Home Affairs ministry: ”You seem to have staff to spend public funds but not enough to account for it properly,’ he querried.
‘Do not let your explanations raise our suspicions further.’
Home affairs ministry officials particularly those from the police administration blamed a computer platform they were using for their failure to balance their books and reconciling receipts from various stations.
‘We are contuining with recovery of those advances in liason with the Pension Office though the exrcise is painfully slow because of difficulties in tracing those that have lready left the force.
In February this year, Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri lied under oath when he told another parliamentary committee that none of the 400 vehicles the place has placed on order with vehicle mnufacturers had been delivered.
Matshiya and other officials contradicted their boss when they told a follow-up meeting on the committee that only 127 vehicles out of the total ordered were still outstanding.

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