HARARE, July 27 (The Source) – Zimbabwe’s Members of Parliament on Thursday rejected the proposed appointment of Industrial Development Corporation boss Mike Ndudzo as Auditor General to replace the popular Mildred Chiri.
MPs across the political divide told Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa that Ndudzo was a failure in his current job where for 26 years he has presided over the vast, loss-making state-owned enterprise with interests spanning from car assembly, fertiliser, mining to textiles.
“We must have due process in terms of allowing Parliament, in this instance the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to be consulted because we have a situation where the proposal of Ndudzo has had reactions and insinuations that Chiri has been fired,” said Innocent Gonese, the chief whip of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
He said since section 310 (1) of the constitution stipulates that the AG is appointed by the President with the approval of Parliament, the correct procedure would be for Chinamasa to first consult the Public Accounts Committee, in which the AG is a member.
“The AG is secretary to the PAC and we cannot perform without the AG and for the minister to come here with the proposal (to replace the AG) without having consulted PAC with reference to the curriculum vitae of Ndudzo is wrong. We are saying Chinamasa is jumping the gun and we do not want to discuss Ndudzo until he goes before the PAC.”
Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda demanded to know if Chiri had been fired or had resigned.
Chinamasa said Chiri’s term of office had expired 18 months ago although she had been handed a fresh six-year term in 2013.
“Let me put the record straight and say that Chiri has not been fired. She was appointed to her current position as AG in 2004 and her 12-year term expired in February last year. I sought legal advice on whether or not she was eligible for another term and was advised by lawyers that she was eligible,” Chinamasa said.
Chiri then agreed to continue for another term as AG but later sent her a text message that she does not wish to continue in the role, he added.
Chinamasa’s statement differs from Chiri’s account in an interview she gave to the privately owned weekly, Financial Gazette who she told that she had been informed of the decision by the President (Robert Mugabe) to remove her on Wednesday.
“It is true. I have been notified of the decision. I had a meeting earlier in the day with Minister Chinamasa where he informed me of the President’s decision, which follows the expiry of my term of office,” she said.
Chinamasa said Chiri had accepted to head the internal audit department.
Of Ndudzo, he said: “I value his experience and it is this expertise that Ndudzo has accumulated in both the public and private sector that more than qualifies him to occupy the office of the AG.”
Ndudzo, a Public Accountant, was the first black Accountant-General after Independence, serving under then Finance Minister, Enos Nkala. Ndudzo served in that position until his appointment to the IDC in 1991.
Chinamasa said with Ndudzo as AG and Chiri heading the internal audit department, as well as the office of the Accountant General, government departments will be on track in terms of transparency and accountability.
MPs, however, felt Chiri was being sidelined for speaking truth to power, and that she rattled her bosses with regular revelations of graft, profligacy and mismanagement of resources in government.
Zvishavane Ngezi MP John Holder of ZANU-PF said despite Chinamasa glossing over Ndudzo’s failed career, MPs do not want him as AG because he presided over non-performing companies.
“Why were public interviews not held? I suspect foul play here. Public interviews must be held and public accountants consulted, and President Robert Mugabe must not be misled with false information because his CV might look good but he has a very bad track record on companies like Modzone, the National Railways of Zimbabwe and others which he led,” Holder said.
Another ZANU-PF MP Goodluck Kwaramba said the PAC preferred to continue working with Chiri as AG.
Chinamasa said he accepted that MPs were rejecting Ndudzo’s candidature, and said he would make more consultations.
“I was listening to sentiments from both sides of the political divide and would therefore like to do further consultations on the matter,” he said.