THE Government has introduced lifestyle audits for all public office holders, among them Cabinet Ministers, to determine if their lifestyles are consistent with their levels of income.
A lifestyle audit involves the verification of a person’s personal expenditure patterns to determine if his or her income is consistent with the individual’s sources of income that include a salary.
Presenting the 2018 National Budget Statement on Thursday, Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa, said lifestyle audits for top ranking Government officials are one of the strategies to curb corruption among public officials.
“The 2018 National Budget proposes to regularise lifestyle audits of all public office holders for the purpose of ensuring that the respective office holder’s lifestyle is commensurate with their level of income,” he said.
“Where it is palpably manifest that their asset base is inconsistent with their level of income, it must be incumbent upon that officer to give an account of their sources of income justifying their wealth. Failure to provide adequate explanation by the office holder will result in an investigation into their financial affairs, should this be necessary.”
President Emmerson Mnangagwa, in his inaugural speech last month, said he would adopt a tough stance against corruption and incompetent government officials who stalled progress and “extort dirty money” from the public and investors.
The President pledged sweeping reforms to rescue the country from the jaws of its past misery and ensure economic recovery.
“As we focus on recovering our economy, we must shed misbehaviours and acts of indiscipline which have characterised the past. Acts of corruption must stop forthwith, where these occur, swift justice must be served to show each and all that crime and other acts of economic sabotage can only guarantee ruin to perpetrators,” said President Mnangagwa.
The Government has since frozen bank accounts of former Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo and former Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Mr Saviour Kasukuwere pending investigations in their business activities.
The two were identified as members of the G40 cabal that had surrounded former President, Cde Robert Mugabe, and taking advantage of his advanced age to engage in criminal activities.
The duo also skipped the country’s borders when the Zimbabwe Defence Forces launched Operation Restore Legacy and their whereabouts are still unknown.
Former Finance Minister Ignatius Chombo, who is on $5 000 bail, is also facing a litany of corruption charges.
Chombo together with former Zanu-PF youth leader, Kudzanai Chipanga, were arrested during the same military operation last month.
Two months ago, police also introduced lifestyle audits in the force as one of the strategies to curb corruption among police officers.
Last year, the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) also embarked on a similar exercise as one of its initiatives to improve tax compliance levels and to assist taxpayers with information on tax matters.
The revenue collection utility said the lifestyle audits are carried out to verify compliance of individual taxpayers in terms of the statutes administered by Zimra, which include Income Tax Act [Chapter 23:06]; Capital Gains Act [Chapter 23:01]; Value Added Tax Act [Chapter 23:12] and Customs and Excise Act [Chapter 23:02].
Last year, Parliament also proposed to institute lifestyle audits for legislators that are expected to compel them to declare their assets in compliance with provisions of the new Constitution and the House’s Standing Rules and Orders. The regulations provide that public officials including parliamentarians must make regular disclosures of their assets.
Parliament’s Standing Rules and Orders Committee in April last year approved a draft Asset Declaration Register that spells out the kind of assets that MPs will be expected to declare.
The Clerk of Parliament, Mr Kennedy Chokuda, said the development was meant to make MPs accountable to the public. The draft document indicates that legislators would be required to declare their assets, which include land, in and outside Zimbabwe, buildings, movable assets, financial assets and other assets such as jewellery worth more than $25,000.
The development is in line with Section 198 of the Constitution that provides for regular disclosure of assets as well as Standing Orders 48 and 49 of the Senate and the National Assembly respectively that provide that, ‘Every member shall register all his/her financial interests in a book to be maintained under the direction of the Speaker and the President of the Senate and such registration shall be in a manner specified in the Code of Conduct’.