via Unpaid municipal workers fingered in corruption probe | SW Radio Africa by Nomalanga Moyo on Thursday, December 19, 2013
Workers at the Chitungwiza municipality are engaging in corrupt practices to make up for their unpaid salaries, according to a report quoting government auditors.
Some workers are accused of illegally selling residential stands and reconnecting water to defaulters and pocketing the proceeds, the NewsDay reported Thursday.
“The municipality has been failing to meet monthly salaries for its employees which saw the latter going for up to 11 months without salaries, as depicted by the accruing salary arrears,” the newspaper quotes from the auditors’ report.
As a result, some workers are said to have turned to corruption and illicit land deals, an allegation that workers’ representative Ephraim Katsina denied.
Katsina said directors in the planning, housing and engineering departments were responsible for allocating stands, together with the chamber secretary.
MDC-T legislator and Shadow Minister for Local Government, Sesel Zvidzai, said he was not surprised by reports of malpractices in Chitungwiza.
“What happens at these local authorities is a general manifestation of the state of governance in a country and also reflects a dysfunctional economy,” Zvidzai told SW Radio Africa’s Big Picture programme.
Zvidzai said there was no excuse for the workers to engage in activities that jeopardise the Chitungwiza municipality of revenue, for whatever reason.
“But much of the blame lies with central government. The MDC-T picked up on this problem in Chitungwiza back in 2009 but unfortunately Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo refused to work with us in dealing decisively with the corruption in the municipality,” Zvidzai added.
In 2010, the MDC-T fired its councillors in Chitungwiza after a probe revealed that they were corrupt and heavily involved in underhand land deals and were also taking bribes.
However, Minister Chombo protected the councillors, and said he would continue to work with them. At the time Chitungwiza’s former MDC-T mayor, Israel Marange, was serving a jail term for corruption emanating from criminal abuse of office.
In the border city of Mutare, a council meeting had to be postponed after councillors refused to discuss the business of the day to protest against non-payment of salaries.
Councillor Crispen said council had agreed that workers, who are owed five months’ wages, would be paid their August cheque.
But instead management went behind the councillors’ backs and paid November salaries instead.
“Why would they choose to pay for November when the resolution was that they pay for August? As councillors we felt there must be something that management is not telling us,” Dube told SW Radio Africa.
Dube said Mutare Council has been struggling financially as a result of Local Government Minister Chombo’s debt write-off directive to local authorities in the run-up to the elections.
“Unemployment is also high in the city following the closure of companies such as Mutare Border Paper Mills and Karina.
“As a result, some people have relocated to the rural areas or simply can’t afford to pay rates, and this has seriously eroded the council’s revenue base.” Dube added.