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US$15,000 bribe demand haunts top officials

by Staff reporter
31 Mar 2024 at 15:22hrs | Views
The Public Accountants and Auditors Board (PAAB)'s secretary and the acting deputy secretary are at the centre of a corruption scandal involving the registration of a new audit firm.

The PAAB is a regulator of the accountancy profession in Zimbabwe established by the Public Accountants and Auditors Act Chapter 27:12 of 1995.

In order to protect the public interest and that of investors, the PAAB has oversight over the accountancy profession in Zimbabwe through setting high standards of corporate governance, reporting and audit and by holding to account those responsible for delivering them.

Among its many other duties the PAAB prescribes the minimum qualifications, competency standards and requirements for registration for accountancy professionals.

Last Matema and Samuel Makuvire representing the yet-to-be-registered audit firm Makuvire and Matema Advisory, have approached the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) accusing the PAAB's secretary Admire Ndurunduru and acting deputy secretary Donald Mangenje of abuse of office and bribe solicitation.

The two PAAB officials are alleged to have demanded US$15 000 from Matema and Makuvire in order to register their audit firm.

This is contained in a letter written by Matema and Makuvire on March 18, 2024 to the anti-graft commission.

"We are registered public auditor and registered public accountant respectively and we are both in good standing with the constituency board (Institute of Chartered Accountants Zimbabwe)," reads part of the letter, a copy which is in possession of this publication.

"In June 2023 we applied to be registered as an audit firm and a detailed summary of what transpired from date of application is attached (Annexure A) to the board chairperson.

"We sustained and continue to sustain unjustified delays on the registration of our firm as summarised in the letter we wrote to the board chairperson, who up to date has neglected and, or avoided to meet us or to give us an explanation on the issues raised there.

"What prompted us to write to the board chairperson was a meeting we had with the acting deputy secretary Mr Donald Mangenje who had called us to his office on about January 29, 2024 after he had sent us a WhatsApp message on December 14, 2023 with an unsigned registration certificate that he said will only be signed by the secretary and the board chair after we had availed US$15 000 to him and the secretary."

Makuvire and Matema said they called the secretary Ndurunduru on January 30 requesting to know why he was holding on to their certificate.

They allege that Ndurunduru threatened them with unspecified action after he had told them that: "Donald told you what to do, hamubatsiriki [you are useless] before he abruptly cut the call."

The pair said they also wrote a letter to the PAAB chair on January 31 seeking an emergency meeting with him where they hoped to  explain the allegation against the secretary and the acting deputy secretary.

"Up to today [March 18, 2024], the board chair has not availed himself for that meeting nor has he updated us on the steps the board has taken as far as our allegations are concerned despite numerous email follow ups on his email," Makuvire and Matema wrote to Zacc.

"On March 15, 2024 we received a letter through email purporting to be communicating the board position on the rejection of our application to be registered as an audit firm, what's worrying and suspicious is that the letter is signed by one of the alleged officials, the acting deputy secretary."

Makuvire and Matema allege that the PAAB officials are trying to use the CEO of the Institute of Chartered Accountants Zimbabwe to victimise them.

PAAB board chair George Mahembe and Ndurunduru could not be reached for comment yesterday, but a letter dated March 28, 2024 written by Choice Damiso from Mangezi and Nleya Legal Practitioners representing the PAAB  said the decision not to register Makuvire and Matema Advisory still stands.

"The anomalies noted by the board reveal a risk of audit services being carried out by a person who has not qualified for a practising certificate to the prejudice of the public," wrote Damiso.

"The decision of the board is, therefore, in line with its obligation to advance the standing and effectiveness of the accountancy profession in Zimbabwe and to always act in the public interest.

"Accordingly, the letter of the board dated March 8, 2024 is extant. The decision of the board stands. Your client will not be issued with a certificate to practice as an audit firm."

This publication has in its possession several copies of correspondence shared between Makuvire and Matema, the PAAB as well as the Institute of Chartered Accountants Zimbabwe over the 10-month period the duo tried to register their audit firm.

Under normal circumstances, it takes up to a month to register an audit firm in Zimbabwe; sources within the accountancy profession told this publication.

Zacc is yet to respond to the letter written by Makuvire and Matema.

The anti-graft board's communications manager Simiso Mlevu and spokesperson Thandiwe Mlobane could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Source - the standrad