16 local authorities face ZACC probe

Capitalk Reporter |  11 months ago | local

SIXTEEN local authorities that have not sent their accounts to the Auditor-General, some failing since 2016, must now be investigated by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC), Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee has said.

The sub-committee on local authorities — chaired by Chegutu West legislator Cde Dexter Nduna —said the councils were mentioned in the 2019 audit report by Auditor-General Mrs Mildred Chiri.

All councils are supposed by law to send her office their annual accounts as part of the normal State auditing system. Councils that failed to meet the requirement claimed they had shortages of personnel and outdated audit systems.

The affected local authorities, including Makonde, Chipinge, Gweru, Insiza, Matobo, Guruve, Bulilima rural district councils and Hwange Local Board, were called before the sub-committee.

Buhera and Masvingo rural district councils are expected to appear before the sub-committee this week. The Public Finance Management Act compels public bodies, including local authorities, to submit their accounts for audit annually. In an interview yesterday, Cde Nduna said the sub-committee now wanted ZACC to probe the local authorities to determine if there was no abuse of funds. “We resolved that ZACC check on compliance issues within the local authorities.

What came out during our meeting on Friday was that some local authorities like Makonde RDC were operating without heads of departments or as in the case of Hwange Local Board, with an incompetent head of treasury,” he said.

The sub-committee had directed the local authorities to submit the curricula vitae for personnel responsible for finance to see if they had people with appropriate qualifications. Cde Nduna said the sub-committee expected to complete its investigations this week before tabling its report to Parliament.

Even those councils that sent in their accounts were mauled in Mrs Chiri’s report. Governance and service delivery issues dominated the Auditor-General’s report, with some councils operating without key policy documents, failure to review and approve payroll prior to processing, absence of control over contracted out services, improper management of council assets, development of and without approval of the responsible Minister and other issues on ineffective internal control systems.

Corruption and corruption-related allegations have surfaced in many councils, with the creation and allocation of housing and commercial stands on public land being the main source of the allegations and large numbers of staff were suspended while awaiting trial.

Many of the allegations relate to either the creation of stands outside proper systems for personal gain or the parcelling out of planned stands to friends, relatives and lovers.