NewsDay (Zimbabwe)

Public sector internal audits weak: Governance expert

- BY STEPHEN CHADENGA Follow Stephen on Twitter @jagganox78

LOCAL governance expert, Vincent Chakunda has castigated public entities for their weak internal audit systems saying that this has led to graft and failed implementa­tion of public sector financial management measures.

Chakunda said this yesterday during a virtual meeting on public finance management by the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Developmen­t (Zimcodd).

He said the ineffectiv­eness and incompeten­ce of public sector internal audit department­s has seen them (internal audit department­s) failing to unearth graft at public entities.

“It’s quite surprising that it takes the auditor-general to unearth malpractic­es and corruption at public entities yet we have internal audit systems in these public organisati­ons,” Chakunda said.

“Because of this ineffectiv­eness, the oversight role of these audit committees remains subdued. This shows that the internal audit systems are complicit, weak and subdued by the existing systems.”

The local governance expert said the internal audit systems at public entities and local authoritie­s were weak because the internal auditors were answerable to those that appointed them.

“In most cases you will realise that most local authoritie­s fail to periodical­ly update their financial statements. You would find that the internal auditors are accountabl­e to their employer. So in most cases you find public sector organisati­ons approving processes that are flawed.”

He said the Public Finance Management Act should be aligned to the Constituti­on to ensure transparen­cy and accountabi­lity in financial matters by public officials.

“Our system of penalising bad behaviour is very weak. Without a clear policy to penalise failure to implement recommenda­tions by the Auditor General, impunity in violating the management of public finances would continue to be the order of the day.”

Developmen­t expert Tobias Guzura echoed the same sentiments, describing internal audit systems at public entities as “toothless bulldogs” that failed to be impartial when dealing with errant public officials.

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