‘Timeous audit reports enhance accountability’

Former Auditor-General Mildred Chiri (centre) receiving the Life Time Award from Women Corporate Directors Network Zimbabwe chairperson Lucy Marowa (left) and chief director in the Ministry of Women's Affairs Lillian Matsika Takaendesa at the 2023 WCDN award ceremony honouring 50 Most Inspirational Women in Zimbabwe.

FORMER Auditor-General Mildred Chiri has stressed the importance of tabling public audit reports on time to meet the statutory deadline of June 30 each year, saying this assures timely accountability of state institutions to citizens.

She spoke publicly for the first time after her retirement earlier this year at the Women Corporate Directors Network Zimbabwe (WCDW) awards ceremony where she shared some of the challenges she faced at the helm of one of the biggest state institutions in the country.

During her tenure, Chiri was not popular with most government departments as her office periodically exposed rampant graft in those institutions.

She received a lifetime award at the WCDW awards ceremony, which recognised 50 most inspirational women in Zimbabwe. Chiri said her appointment as Auditor-General was both challenging and fruitful.

“When I was appointed as Auditor-General, I was really excited but little did I know that this was a Herculean task,” she said.

“Reality slowly dawned on me as I coasted along in the job. There were moments of joy, and sadness just like most jobs.

“When I became Auditor-General, the audit reports were behind for five years and due to justifiable reasons as some returns were not submitted by some ministries.

“In 2014, we managed to meet the statutory deadline. The idea of having reports, which are up to date cannot be over-emphasised. The statutory deadline for tabling the Auditor-General’s reports is June 30 of each year,” Chiri further stated, saying the trend, which had been created between 2014 and 2019, was disrupted by Covid-19.

“Work hard, the important thing is not to give up, be patient, have interpersonal relations it is very important to develop skills on how to deal with people; in life you can’t please everyone, learn to say"No”, be adaptable, as you rise up the ladder, you become less technical, you have to learn to appreciate and make decisions on all functional areas of the organisation,” Chiri said.

“Be yourself, you can still shine and bloom where you are; you don't need to be your neighbour.”

The Women Corporate Directors Network Zimbabwe recognised women, who it said exhibited commitment to diversity, inclusion, women's leadership in the boardroom and a financial security record. 

The award categories included inspirational awards for leadership and governance, governance in government and partnerships, inspirational awards for leadership and governance in small to medium enterprises, inspirational awards for leadership and governance in non-governmental organisations, inspirational awards for leadership and governance in listed companies, and inspirational awards for Environmental Social and Governance leadership. In a speech read on her behalf by her chief director, Lillian Takaendisa, Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development minister Monica Mutsvangwa said women in various sectors had displayed resilience, dedication, unwavering commitment, and relentless hard work, shattering the barriers that many deemed impossible to break.

“However, we cannot overlook the challenges and obstacles that still hinder women from occupying leadership roles, particularly in the corporate world. This current reality is detrimental to the progress made in achieving gender balance, and it deserves urgent attention,” she said.

“It is unfortunate that women still face difficulties in finding opportunities, securing support, and accessing leadership roles in the corporate landscape.”

Mutsvangwa said it was unacceptable as women deserved to be recognised for the work they do in national development, improving their livelihoods and those of the families, communities they work and reside in.

“We must vow to ensure that women receive the representation they deserve not as mere token gestures. Women do not need to spend all their time proving their outstanding contributions in various spaces because their exceptional leadership abilities are already evident,” she said.

“Yet, their absence from decision-making levels continues to impede progress, from boardrooms to top-tier positions. Gender imbalance in leadership positions, such as corporate boardrooms, is a matter that must come to an end. Women are entitled to a fair position in leadership, with their voices heard, and their opinions valued,” she added.

Zimbabwe Independent editor Faith Zaba was one of the 50 inspirational women honoured at the award ceremony.

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