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NetOne misused COVID-19 relief funds – Auditor General

NetOne, OneTV, OneMoney COVID-19 Funds, 5gb bundle

In April last year, the government announced that it would be distributing COVID-19 funds exclusively through NetOne’s mobile money service OneMoney. At the time we speculated that this was meant to boost OneMoney’s position in the mobile money space. As I am sure you are all aware EcoCash has an insurmountable lead over the rest of the competition and the govt using OneMoney for this purpose would surely help it make some ground on EcoCash.

These funds were meant to support SMEs (Small to Medium Enterprises), impoverished households, people with disabilities, the elderly and child-headed families.

Well… it has been many moons since we heard anything on the arrangement until the Special Audit Report of the Auditor General on the Covid-19 Pandemic Financial Management and Utilisation of Public Resources that was tabled to parliament last week. According to that report, NetOne mishandled varying sums of the ZW$89 022 103 (US$1 047 318) it was meant to disburse to the above-mentioned communities.

No reconciliations were done with the mobile money service provider to confirm whether all the payments reached the intended beneficiaries as there were instances where the mobile money service provider issued two (2) different NetOne lines to the same individual.

There was processing of payments to beneficiaries with fictitious identity numbers and suspicious names (as well as) incorrect and insufficient contact addresses. There was also use of similar contact addresses for beneficiaries in districts.

No follow-up mechanism was developed to verify existence of the beneficiaries and whether the allowances had reached the intended beneficiaries.

Report by the Office of the Auditor General via Grazers News

Adding on to this statement the office of the Auditor-General observed that NetOne/OneMoney:

  • Used an unreliable beneficiary database that resulted in the abuse of funds, adding that, in some cases, individuals received multiple transfers against government policy.
  • Other beneficiaries had the same identity numbers but different gender and dates of birth.
  • There were irregularities in the SIM cards that NetOne issued to purported beneficiaries.
  • NetOne issued call lines to beneficiaries but failed to upload the allowances while some batches of SIM cards were sent to wrong districts or provinces, ā€œresulting in non-collection of the allowances by intended beneficiaries.
  • A total of $201, 900 Covid-19 allowances processed in July 2020 for 673 beneficiaries at $300 each had not been collected from the Buhera District Social Welfare office.
  • This was due to incorrect contact details such as the addresses on the database.
  • 88 Buhera district beneficiaries had their Covid-19 allowances amounting to $26, 400 (US$305) collected by third parties without written authorization from the beneficiaries.
  • This was in violation of Section 59 (10) of the Public Finance Management (Treasury Instructions) 2019, which requires collections by third parties to be supported by a proper authority that should be attached to the payment voucher.
  • The lack of validation, integration and sharing of data and outdated or incorrect information across Government platforms resulted in some beneficiaries, including Government officials, receiving COVID19 relief disbursements they might not have been entitled to.
  • Intended beneficiaries could have been deprived of the assistance as a result.

Just when the Lazarus Muchenje saga was fading into obscurity, this crops up.

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7 thoughts on “NetOne misused COVID-19 relief funds – Auditor General

  1. Mildred and her team, seem to be the only ones doing their jobs. As usual, someone is going to give a silly justification of why the audit turned up these results and that it overlooked certain information. Or, that covid made administration difficult. That will be the end of the story, no recoveries, no sackings, certainly no arrests.

    Citizens will get fatigued asking for accountability, till the next scandal comes about to divert their attention.

  2. Mismanagement is now the order of the day in state owned entities. Every audit report opens a can of worms.

  3. Although sad and frustrating, maladminstration and corruption news in this teapot shaped country is no longer news. Just another day in paradise.

  4. Dai Mwari awedzera uyu mukadzi mazuva akawanda ekurara asi chinondinetsa mbavha dzacho ndodzinorarama mazuva akawanda panyika apo dzichitodadira varombo nemari dzekuba.

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