Rectification or fiscal hebetude?

Rectification or fiscal hebetude?
WALTER-CHIDHAKWA

Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Walter Chidhakwa

By Kapeza Kapeza

THE Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Walter Chidhakwa, has instituted a forensic audit in response to the public proclamations that Zimbabwe lost an estimated US$15 billion worth of diamonds. I cannot help but wonder why we have this urge to appear to be doing something about this economic prejudice, only now.
Is it because this was an announcement by the President? I remember Tendai Biti, the then Minister of Finance and Economic Development clamouring for remittances from the diamond miners to help him sustain the government’s activities. His supplications fell flatly on deaf ears. Or were the ears only conveniently deaf because at the time, the burden to “find the money” could easily be heaved and even blamed on someone owing to the then political configuration?
The minister at the time alleged that there was a parallel system that would accept such remittances at the expense of the fiscus.
Today, the estimates are a public secret, thanks to the profound surprise “revelation and discovery”.
Had we heeded the lamentation of “prophet” Biti, then, were we not to be in a mitigated loss today?
I believe the said “parallel system” cannot play dumb. I also believe we may not need to create a further prejudice to our beloved country by paying for forensic experts who will cost us to ascertain nothing new.
We were already conscious of the accumulating pilferage of the gems.
Instead of a forensic expenditure, why don’t we closely look at ourselves with an objective eye?
I am sure the answers surround our everyday trodden lives. As a trained accountant, my knowledge of forensic accounting and auditing points at accumulation of evidence that may be used to prosecute culprits for one of the three possible areas, corruption.
Does the word shock anyone? It has become almost synonymous with doing any meaningful business in Zimbabwe.
To put it into perspective, for purposes of forensic investigations or audit, corruption fraud is three pronged; Conflict of interest, bribery and extortion.
How interesting the results could be if the process was to be objectively carried out and result publicised as much as the “revelation”.
Most prominent leaders would tremble. All for the reason they could be found in most if not all the types of corruption.
We have had instances in the past not alienated to the case in point. You will recall the US$6 million allegation, again “revealed”by the Head of State at a birthday diner.
My guess is we all know who was then detained at the “CMED board”. Further, a senior government official is said to have lost the country’s gems to “thieves” while in a foreign land. I still wonder, how exactly.
If this is indicative of how we will be incarcerating culprits after the forensic audit, I would rather we halt immediately, count our losses and pray heaven chart a new course that minimises any further losses.
Perhaps, the minister has been stimulated by the quantum of the said losses and for the first time we are looking at one huge loss in one industry.
Surely, US$15 billion would naturally shock even the world’s multibillion dollar fiscal nations. How much worse for our mere US$4 billion 2016 national budget?
It might seem logical and rationale. But how many of us have ever taken time to try and estimate the total amount of prejudice that we have suffered beyond just this one area?
Perhaps, it is because we have exhausted the common purse and there are bills to be paid. Delayed payments of civil service salaries and bonuses are latent evidence the fiscus is taking a huge knock especially against ever dwindling and often missed revenue targets. Real revenue sources then beckon but sadly, it could be too late. The money is concealed in a parallel network hard to undo.
Or now are, genuinely, attempting to regulate and regularize what we should have, a long time ago. We could be trying to deal with mistakes that we have always been making in the past. We could just be trying to cover for our economic hebetude and unrivalled corruption. The former is ideal, notwithstanding, the rectitude of the appointees.
This ushers concerns on the attempt to bale the diamond entities into one, whose oversight goes all the way back to the ‘hands’ of those responsible for perpetuation of the past mistakes. This could be a discussion for another time.
Meanwhile, we can only hope the nation is spared further hemorrhage in this and other economic areas and the common man on the street emerge the fiscal victor in the end. Let the object of the forensics be the ultimate fiscal assurance to the patriots of the Zimbabwean economy.

Kapeza Kapeza is a senior business consultant with Franlink Consultants, who are registered public accountants and auditors. He can be contacted at kkapeza@franlinkcons.co.zw/kkapeza@gmail.com

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