The initial boat trip from Southampton to Cape Town, and rail journey
north to Salisbury was an adventure in itself. It was not long after arrival
that I found the word 'auditor' to be some what different in meaning from the
word 'accountant'. Initial training was almost wholly on-the-job. At that time work entailed checking and vouching information, casting and cross-casting
totals, checking bank reconciliations, assisting with examination into stock
and cash losses or fraudulent practices, and drafting audit observations or
Many challenging, yet amusing, experiences arose: balancing beer hall
stocks and cash, and verifying cash on hand from sales of liquid and bottled
beers, was particularly onerous and time consuming. When not always able
to count cash at one time, it was often a hazard to guard against the same
cash being produced to the auditor more than once. In verifying bottled beer
stocks, it often became apparent that bulk stocks on hand were far short of
book balances, or such stocks had been diluted in the bottles themselves.
Because of a lack of sophisticated financial controls or banking facilities,
large cash balances relating to temporary deposit accounts were held. The
register entries, denoting balances on hand, were often manipulated and
misappropriated by clerks. This was a 'sure-fire' area of fraud.
In offices such as the magistrates' court, revenue stamps were affixed to
case histories to show that a fine had been paid. The stamps were
supposed to be cancelled by rubber stamp. Often uncancelled stamps were
uplifted from documents and old, previously used and cancelled stamps
substituted from old court case histories.
During my formative years I travelled to many branch offices in remote
locations. The word often got around that the auditors were in town. One
was often required to be polite, tactful, and patient with staff, junior or senior,
in one's work. An initial unsatisfactory welcome to an auditor sometimes
revealed fraud or unsatisfactory control procedures. A lack of hotel
accommodation often meant that the audit team had to stay with a senior
official whose office would receive an unsatisfactory report - a difficult
situation to handle.
The Federation was dissolved on 31 December 1963, and I opted to join the
Southern Rhodesia audit office. My duties took on more responsibility
thereafter, once a number of colleagues either joined the private sector or
The years from 1963 to 1980 were very eventful. The unilateral declaration
of Independence in November 1965 was initially traumatic, but from a job
point of view the only work-change for me was to draw-up an audit plan to
check controls and custodial procedures for the office set-up under the
Treasury, to make advances to civilians who found their financial well-being
threatened by financial sanctions imposed by the British Government over
their overseas assets.
My audit assignment to the Treasury at this time involved overseeing the
public debt and annual borrowings, auditing such data for inclusion in the
annual Auditor-General's report, and involvement also in proof-reading the
outcome of these statements - an onerous task in the years before
computer technology became available.
In 1968 I was tasked with auditing our diplomatic mission in London. This
was at a time of mutual suspicion between the political parties in Rhodesia
and the United Kingdom.
Another noteworthy event at this time, in 1978, was my involvement in
interviewing the first black auditors for appointment into the Audit Office. At
this time I was in the senior ranks, involved in recruitment, advancement
and promotion committees, and other human resources functions.
In April 1980 Zimbabwe became an independent nation. I was once again
to say goodbye to a number of colleagues who took early retirement. From
Principal Director of Audit, I became Deputy Auditor-General. Before that, I
carried out an audit of our London office again (1982), coupled with visits to
embassies in Lisbon, Stockholm, Bonn and Brussels.
My last memorable occasion was to accompany the Auditor-General to the
1984 Commonwealth Conference of Auditors-General at Lancaster House
On the home front, as Deputy Auditor-General I attended sessions of the
Committee of Public Accounts. The Audit Office placed before the
Committee memoranda on areas of improper financial conduct, fraud, waste
etc. It was an important function of the Westminster-based parliamentary
system adopted by Zimbabwe in its early days.
In July 1987 I retired from the Audit Office. Thereafter I remained in
Zimbabwe working in the private sector as an internal auditor, until
retirement in 2005. In November 2007 my wife Sheila and I left Zimbabwe,
with great sadness. We both look back upon our lives in Africa as
challenging, exciting and very rewarding.