Every year since 2004 Mildred Chiri lays bare Zimbabwe’s corruption from the president’s office to local authorities.
Her office which is responsible for auditing the annual reports on state finances, assessing financial statements, evaluating key performance indicators, evaluating controls and issuing audit opinions for public institutions has been getting a lot of attention in recent years.
The woman at the top is the most popular accountant in Zimbabwe. Business Weekly’s Chris Chenga in 2018 felt compelled to ask if there is depth in her popularity. And yes it seems as if a lone voice against corruption from within a government funded entity is worthy the attention.
Her controversial sacking and reinstatement may have generated headlines but her work has been nothing but splendid.
In her long career at the Controller and Auditor-General’s office first as an audit assistant and as Auditor General; Chiri proved to be guided by professionalism, effectiveness and nonpartisanship in a hyper politically charged environment. This non-partisan and professional approach earned her respect across the political divide.
In 2013 she highlighted abuses in both the office of president Mugabe and prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai the then political opponents. Most praises came in 2019 when she revealed a slew of abuses in ministries, parastatals and local authorities. Opposition leaders Jacob Ngarivhume tweeted that:
The Auditor-General Mildred Chiri has done a splendid job in exposing rampant corruption in @edmnangagwa and Mugabe’s era. If the so called second republic is serious about corruption, we need to start seeing convictions and not this catch and release game they always play!!Jacob Ngarivhume
Human rights activist Emmanaul Moyo wrote: “Keep up the great work Amai Chari” in an opinion piece titled “Go deeper Auditor General on Bulawayo24News.
Evaluating her office’s performance so far it has been splendid as Jacob has said. Chris Chenga writing for Business Weekly argued that her performance and relative lack of political victimization is mainly because of the office’s constant professional pressure from local and international institutions such as Institute of Chartered Accountants in Zimbabwe and the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy. Chris maybe right but for Midred Chiri’s part as Auditor-General she has been doing well despite resources constraints.
In an interview with the Herald in 2019 she said Resources are a challenge including Human Resources which she said the current staff establishment need to be doubled.
“During 2018 my staff only managed to carryout audits of 549 outlyigng stations against a total of 3320.”AG Chiri to The Herald
With limited resources she managed to bring new changes which require no additional resources such as her changes to the formarting of Auditor-General’s reports to make them simpler and eiser to understand. Less technical reports have proven to be more useful because the general public which she is employed to save were not understanding the more technical formatting of the past.
She highlighted lack of workers safety in mines, abuse of state resources and outright corruption locally but still her responsibilities goes beyond Zimbabwean borders. She has held positions in various reputable instituions including the INTOSAI Development Initiative an organization which capacitates Supreme Audit Institutions throughout the world. She had several posts in The governing Board of the AFROSAI (African Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions.)
Her job is being done well and she “encourages the law enforcement arms of government to go through the reports and take appropriate redress measures on issues that lend themselves criminal prosecutions” so the foundation of the fight against corruption is set now it’s up for law enforcement officers and political players to do their jobs.