via Auditor-General opens can of worms in councils – Newsday October 22, 2015
Most councils are lagging behind in remittances of their statutory obligations to the National Social Security Authority and the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) due to liquidity challenges, Auditor-General Mildred Chiri has said.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
In her 2014 local authorities audit report presented in Parliament on Tuesday, Chiri said some councils even operated without valuation rolls, while others had salary arrears dating back to 2012.
“Bulawayo City Council lost $76 000 through embezzlement by an assistant accountant,” the report read. “In addition, the city paid in advance a total amount of $305 106 for the purchase of ambulances and vehicle trackers in 2010. These had not been delivered to council at the time of audit in 2014.”
The employee who embezzled $76 000 was said to have been dismissed, but made to sign an agreement to repay the amount, effectively treating the fraud like a loan.
“There was no evidence that proper legal proceedings were followed to ensure that the perpetrator was apprehended by law, as charges were withdrawn after the repayment agreement was signed. This undermines the importance of organisational ethics in the eyes of employees,” the report said.
Masvingo City Council was said to have had cash resources of $125 860 and an investment of $281 155 locked up in a commercial bank that has been under curatorship since 2012.
“My audit revealed cases where suppliers were paid in advance, but the purchased goods and services were not delivered. In addition, some councils could not avail expenditure supporting documents,” Chiri said.
“I noted that Kadoma City Council had salary arrears amounting to over $2 million, while Bulawayo City Council did not perform any reconciliation between the payroll summaries and the general ledger, resulting in salary variances.
Heads of departments of Tongogara Rural District Council were paid unapproved monthly mileage allowances and housing allowances.”
The audit report said most of the weaknesses emanated from governance issues, revenue collection and debt recovery, employment costs and procurement of goods and services.
In 2012, Mutare City Council audits revealed that 7 898 out of 24 723 council water meters were dysfunctional, forcing the local authority to use estimates in billing.
“The risk is financial loss as a result of undercharging for water consumption and overburdening of residents due to overcharges. Mutare City Council said they have a programme to replace all dysfunctional water meters subject to availability of funds,” Chiri said.