Home » Governance » Parly Committee Disappoints Minister

INFORMATION, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo yesterday expressed surprise and disappointment at the behaviour of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Information, Media and Broadcasting Services that threatened ZBC with contempt of Parliament charges if it did not produce the forensic audit report that was conducted at the public broadcaster last year.

The committee said Parliament will not hesitate to invoke the necessary legal statutes should they fail to produce the forensic report that was commissioned by the Auditor-General at the request of the Ministry of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services.

Father Munyoro drew the ire of the committee chaired by Umzingwane MP Cde William Dhewa (Zanu-PF) when he said that he did not have the mandate to give the committee the forensic audit report.

He said Parliament will be furnished with the report by Prof Moyo after it had been taken to the President and the Cabinet.

“We don’t have the permission or mandate to publicise or use the report in any forum that is not approved by the Minister,” said Fr Munyoro.

“In consultation with the minister with regards to this meeting we were aised that the minister will himself, present the report to Members of Parliament. I was aised that it is not my mandate to do that.”

After Fr Munyoro’s brief presentation to the committee, legislators took turns to criticise his team and him for failure to bring the report to the House.

Cde Dhewa then asked Fr Munyoro, who was accompanied by fellow board member Dr Charity Manyeruke and ZBC acting chief executive officer Mr Patrick Mavhura to briefly leave the room to allow legislators to confer among themselves.

After reconvening, Cde Dhewa cited constitutional provisions and Standing Orders that empowered Parliament to request the production of any document that might be in possession of a person.

Cde Dhewa told the ZBC leadership that in terms of the Constitution, Government ministries, departments and their agencies were accountable to Parliament.

“There is no court order stopping us from requesting the document,” he said.

“We have decided not to continue with hearing evidence.”

The committee then gave the ZBC leaders two weeks to return to the House and furnish it with the report. Earlier on, Fr Munyoro had said ZBC was saddled with a $54 million debt that the new board inherited when it assumed office.

“We have ensured that it does not continue accumulating by paying salaries and statutory obligations,” he said.

Fr Munyoro said the absence of substantive office bearers like the chief executive officer had a bearing on the production and implementation of a turnaround strategy. He said they were still pursuing the finalisation of labour issues related to senior management that were suspended over corporate governance issues so that a substantive leadership was appointed.

Prof Moyo yesterday rapped the committee

“The Committee’s attitude is surprising and disappointing. ZBC does not own the forensic and comprehensive audit in question. Cabinet authorised the audit to be done under the auspices of the Auditor General. But Cabinet itself has not deliberated on the report because, among other important administrative reasons, some legal issues that are before the courts have arisen. This was a special and expensive audit done for a specific purpose to correct financial abuses and associated illegal conduct at ZBC.

“It would be irresponsible, unreasonable and unacceptable to prematurely release the report to the public while the very serious issues that prompted Government to undertake the audit have not been finalised. Releasing the audit report prematurely would undermine its purpose. I expect the Committee to understand this in the interest of good governance. Otherwise it is common cause that I made an undertaking under oath before the Committee to furnish it with the ZBC forensic and comprehensive audit and I’m committed to honouring that undertaking.

“Meanwhile I urge the Committee to be patient and to engage the Ministry directly on this matter because the audit report in question was done by Government and not by ZBC which is merely but one user of the report,” Prof Moyo said.

A corporate governance expert, who spoke on condition of anonymity said the Committee risked being seen as having a hidden agenda to assist some dismissed staffers like Mr Happison Muchechetere.

Source : The Herald