Leonard Ncube/Nomvelo Siziba, Victoria Falls Reporters
GOVERNMENT should urgently establish a specialised internal audit committee to ensure transparency and independence in the assessment of public entities’ operations.
The proposal was one of the key resolutions from the recent internal auditors’ conference held in Victoria Falls. During discussions participants said accountability and openness were critical in transforming Zimbabwe towards an upper middle income economy by 2030.
They urged Government to implement necessary institutional reforms to enhance improved public sector financial management. Institute of Internal Auditors chief executive, Mrs Tambu Mawere, said Zimbabwe should learn from other countries such as Botswana that have centralised internal audit units.
“We’re here to discuss the role of internal audit in the new dispensation, which brought about a number of opportunities and challenges. Organisations are introducing new systems and technology of internal audit hence we should embrace opportunities ushered by the new dispensation,” she said.
“Internal auditors are a key stakeholder in this whole process because they do risk management, internal control and good governance. They are there to assist Government and the public sector on internal control and risk issues. Efforts are being made to set up an internal audit committee as a centralised internal audit function for the public sector from where internal auditors will be drawn from and assigned to the various Government ministries and entities to do audits.”
Mrs Mawere said auditors should be assessed for their independence while prospective members should not be attracted by remuneration but be motivated by the zeal to serve their country. She said the private sector was committed to good governance. Participants expressed concern over lack of independence by internal auditors who they said have no impact.
They said an audit committee is the way to go as most internal auditors end up being demoted and issues they unearth do not go beyond the board.
“If we are really serious about fighting corruption in government entities, we need that unit as a matter of urgency. Right now we are not really serious about fighting corruption,” said another participant.
The delegates said public sector auditing was compromised since auditors announce their desire to visit an entity well in advance as opposed to spot checks as done in the private sector. Deputy auditor general, Mrs Rheah Kujinga, who was guest of honour, said Government was making efforts to make internal audit independent. She said training of more than 100 internal auditors on certification was underway as she urged organisations to hire private experts as consultants.
Mrs Kujinga said the Pubic Finance and Management Act requires every ministry and public entity to establish an audit committee to review internal controls, including the scope of internal audit programme, and to recommend appropriate action to be taken by authorities.
“Transparency and accountability will help plug leakages and also attract foreign direct investment. An internal auditor is appointed through Section 80 of the Public Finance Management Act to monitor the financial administration and procedures of the ministry as well as ensure that accounts are prepared in a timely and accurate manner and prompt publication of annual accounts,” she said.
Mrs Kujinga bemoaned the gap between internal auditors in the private sector and those in the public sector based on remuneration, saying this will be a challenge for the internal audit committee.
The theme for the conference was: “Zimbabwe Transformation Agenda and the Role of Internal Audit.”— @ncubeleon