|Part of the people who attended the public hearing in Masvingo|
Masvingo citizens have called on government to give people who abuse public funds mandatory sentences equivalent to treason.
Speaking at a public hearing conducted by joint Portfolio Committees on Budget, Finance and Economic Development and Public Accounts, several participants called for stiff punitive measures and mandatory jail terms to be included in the Public Finance Management Act for those who misuse public funds.
A youth participant, Yvonne Shumbanhete said the bill should have tough penalties to people who fail to comply with the requirements of the Public Finance Management Act.
“The bill must provide for the speedy detection of public financial misconduct by giving tough penalties to the perpetrators, and I think at least 10 years imprisonment is appropriate.
“There should also be monitoring mechanisms to make sure that justice has indeed taken its course,” said Shumbanhete.
ZIMCODD representative Janet Zhou said offenders must be made to pay back all the funds they may have misused and also be blacklisted until they are proven innocent beyond reasonable doubt.
“Offenders should be arrested, prosecuted, convicted and the misused funds recovered. The bill, after being passed into law should also include a maximum time frame for investigations and prosecution because most of the cases take too long and offenders end up walking scot free.
“There should be a blacklist of perpetrators, which will double as punishment to the cases that would have been taken up by the National Prosecuting Authority,” said Zhou.
A Masvingo resident Nyasha Mutamba said there should be no mercy on offenders and the Public Finance Management Act should treat it just like treason or stock theft.
“All perpetrators who mess with public funds must be given tough penalties at least 25 years imprisonment because the misconduct affect a lot of people’s lives and development.
“Just like stock theft there should be a scheduled offence when it comes to misconduct of public finances,” said Mutamba.
The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Public Finance Management Act Chapter 22:19 so as to align it with the provisions of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.