Innocent Ruwende in Mutare
Mutare City Council directors are facing the chop after Government unearthed corruption at the local authority, with the executives awarding themselves foreign holidays and loans, while ordinary workers have gone for more than two years without salaries.
Manicaland Provincial Affairs Minister Mandi Chimene implored Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Saviour Kasukuwere, who presented the audit report to Mutare mayor Mr Tatenda Nhamarare, to sack all the directors.
Outlining some of the highlights of the report, Minister Kasukuwere said the directors were enjoying extravagant lifestyles, which included sending their children to foreign universities and expensive schools.
“My ministry has identified a lot of weaknesses which challenge the survival of the city,” he said.
“An issue of concern is that the city of Mutare is operating unsustainably. It seems executives do not understand the budgetary process in defiance of the Urban Councils Act.
“Is this deliberate disobedience? If what we are seeing is allowed to go on, we will be in serious trouble. There is no evidence of innovation in 2016. Your creditors stand at $19 million, while the city is owed $30 million.”
Minister Kasukuwere said the city’s work force of 1 501 was consuming 85 percent of revenue, while the real work of council was getting a meagre 15 percent.
He said despite the huge staff complement, there was evidence of serious extravagance with managers getting holiday allowances, cash in lieu, expensive school fees at local and foreign institutions and subsidised vehicle loans.
“This is unacceptable,” said Minister Kasukuwere.
“This level of extravagance will not be tolerated. Officials are partaking holidays in foreign nations at the expense of ratepayers and giving each other loans nine months in advance.
“Cash is moving from point A to point B without being receipted.
“As city fathers, we owe it to people of Mutare to give them descent service. They are not paying to quench your taste.”
Minister Kasukuwere said city officials should work overtime without being paid to rectify the situation.
Minister Chimene said corruption was rife at the council and all directors and managers should be fired.
“The councillors here submit to the management,” she said. “We have to remind the councillors who the boss is. If you are not corrupt in this council then I don’t know which council you work for.”
Mr Nhamarare thanked the ministry for its efforts in addressing the city’s challenges.
“We shall try to implement the recommendations you have made,” he said.
The ministry sent an audit team to probe Mutare City Council’s payroll, amid reports of ghost workers and allegations that managers were receiving salaries on time, yet the local authority was struggling to pay low grade workers their wages since 2013.
The team, which began work on December 7 and finished on December 18, also investigated the council’s medical aid scheme which was believed to have lost thousands of dollars through dubious transactions.
The local authority is yet to pay some of its workers their 2013 salaries, a situation that has led many to think that money is being siphoned.