BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
Local Government deputy minister Marian Chombo has told Parliament that poor management of funds and a hefty wage bill were crippling Chitungwiza Municipality service delivery.
Chombo said this in a ministerial statement issued in the National Assembly last Thursday while responding to issues raised in a report on poor service delivery in the dormitory town by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Local Government.
The committee recently probed the council after the Zimbabwe Old People Association (Zopa) petitioned Parliament over paltry pensions given to former Chitungwiza employees.
The pensioners had also appealed for Parliament’s intervention over poor service delivery by the municipality which has left roads in the high-density suburbs impassable.
Chombo said the municipality was operating without a substantive town clerk, a development which had stifled efficient service delivery.
The local authority has been operating under an acting town clerk since September 2019 following the suspension of George Makonde on allegations of absenteeism and gross insubordination.
“Poor financial management has resulted in the council failing to make contributions in full to the pension funds, that is the Unified Councils Pension Fund and Local Authority Pension Fund,” Chombo said.
“The small amount of money that was being remitted to pension funds was the main reason for failure by the pension houses to pay meaningful pension pay-outs to pensioners. However, the council has managed to settle the outstanding payments to the pension fund and the pensioners were now accessing their pensions.
“Council had also been in the habit of paying huge salaries and the wage bill had ballooned to an extent of exceeding revenue collections and this negatively affected service delivery.”
She said government had allocated local authorities 20% of devolution funds towards road rehabilitation under the emergency road rehabilitation programme since allocations from the Zimbabwe National Road Administration were inadequate or not disbursed.
“Councils have been failing to produce final accounts to ensure timely external audits. This is not only a violation of statutes, but also compromises the council’s bankability and ultimately means it cannot qualify for borrowing powers to allow it to source for open market for capital development projects such as the construction of its own dam for raw water extraction. This had affected the water supply to residents of Chitungwiza,” she said.
Chombo said poor service delivery was rampant in all local authorities across the country.