Innocent Ruwende Municipal Reporter
Harare City Council is reportedly running over 30 bank accounts, prompting councillors to order an urgent audit of the accounts and their signatories. Ten of the accounts are reportedly active, while 20 are said to be dormant.
The Urban Council Act is silent on the number of bank accounts local authorities can operate at a time, but financial experts say multiple bank accounts raise suspicion of underhand dealings.
Councillors have asked the city’s audit committee to investigate the bank accounts and their signatories after city officials failed to provide the information upon request by the city fathers.
An audit of a reconciliation of all the city’s bank accounts carried out last year revealed that the city had 35 accounts and that council had not reconciled all of them in three years from 2009 to 2012.
Recent minutes of the Finance and Development Committee show that councillors expressed concern that a report detailing the number of the city’s bank accounts and the signatories had not been submitted.
“During discussion, the committee noted with concern that the finance director was encountering challenges to obtain the requisite information on this matter.
“The acting town clerk (Mrs Josephine Ncube) also highlighted that she had been made aware of the matter and advised that she had called for a meeting where she would meet the finance director and his senior officials to discuss the matter,” read the minutes.
“The committee expressed concern on the development and urged the acting town clerk to take corrective action as a matter of urgency. The committee felt that the matter had to be referred to the audit committee to establish the number of the city’s bank accounts and its (sic) signatories and advise this committee accordingly.”
The committee also referred to its request to be provided with the finance department’s organogram and expressed concern that this had not been submitted.
The committee referred the matter to the Human Resources and General Purposes Committee to consider the matter and advise.
Following discussions, the committee resolved that the matter regarding the number of council bank accounts and the signatories be referred to the Audit Committee to investigate and advise it.
Last year, the then town clerk Dr Tendai Mahachi told the audit committee that despite the city having this huge number of bank accounts, 25 of them were dormant.
During the deliberations, council resolved that the acting finance director ensures the number of operational bank accounts and cash books are reviewed downwards.
It also recommended that bank accounts be reconciled to the cash books on a monthly basis.