The Director of the Department of Judicial Administration (DJA) has made no effort to distribute child support money worth over Rf1.3 million (US$85,000), according to the Auditor General, while large amounts of money owed after court rulings has not been collected from offenders or distributed to successful plaintiffs.
According to a 2010 audit report on the DJA released on Thursday, auditors found that if the recipients of the child support did not explicitly collect the money from the court, the money remained undistributed and no additional measures were taken by the court deliver the child support to its rightful recipient.
“Until December 2010, a total of Rf1,301,767.67 million remains undistributed with the court. However, the documents indicate that the court has made no efforts to distribute the money,” the report reads.
Following the breakdown of a marriage, husbands are mandated to make payments to their former spouses to cover the costs of childcare.
The report further notes that “as the records on child support money received by the court so far have not been maintained by the court properly”, it was unclear as to how much money the court was also supposed to receive as per the court orders.
The audit report noted that the DJA had not collected a total of Rf 1.6 million (US$104,000) owed by men found guilty of divorcing their wives outside the court.
A total of Rf2.1 million US$136,000) needs to be collected by the Civil Court as of February 2011, while a significant sum of Rf22 million (US$1.42 million) is owed to the Criminal court following court rulings and remained uncollected as of January 2011.
“The Department of Judicial administration has not done adequate work to collect the funds,” Auditor General Ibrahim Niyaz observed in the report.
Niyaz refrained from issuing an opinion on the financial statements provided the DJA, citing that the statements were not prepared in accordance with international public sector accounting standards (IPSAS) following principles of “accrual accounting” or the “financial reporting under cash basis of accounting” issued by the IPSAS board, while several “fundamental records” were unaccounted for in the statements.
He noted that earnings from the magistrate court amounting to almost Rf4.9 million (US$318,000) were not recorded as income in the financial statement, while the funds remained in court safes and bank accounts. Similarly, Rf6.9 million (US$448,000) dispersed in advance to magistrate courts were recorded as an expenditure in the financial statement, while the auditors found that the funds remain “unspent” by the courts.
In an issue highlighted in previous audit reports of state institutions for 2010, the AG noted that between October 2008 and December 2011, Supreme Court judges had paid their phone bills amounting to Rf281,519 from the state budget, despite the fact that parliament had not allocated any phone allowances to the judges.
Therefore he recommended the amount be reimbursed and that the granting of phone allowances be determined as per parliament’s decision.
Meanwhile, Rf117, 832 (US$7640) was found to have been overspent on wages and allowances to the driver of a judge’s car.
DJA’s reponse: “loophole in the system”
The Director of the Department of Judicial Administration Ahmed Maajid said there is a “loophole in the implementation and enforcement” system that is resulting in millions of rufiya not being collected or distributed after legal decisions have been made.
Maajid explained these findings, arguing that there was currently no governmental authority or body to handle this aspect of the court’s work.
“It is upon the mother to get [the child support]. We have not executive or judicial authority to distribute it. There is a loophole in the system. It is not a case of corruption but a weakness in the system itself,” said Maajid.
“Currently the courts have no authority to give money over to the women. What normally happens is that the men get away without paying,” he continued.
Maajid went on to say that the issue concerned both the collection and the distribution of moneys owed. He argued that a new authoritative body was needed with the responsibility to collect these outstanding fees.
Maajid, however, did not see the problem as insurmountable although he felt it required urgent attention.
“This shortcoming in the system must be patched up very soon in order to fix this loophole,” he said.
Additional reporting by Daniel Bosley.