Farirai Machivenyika-Senior Reporter
A Harare City Council procurement team went to South Africa on a trip with all expenses paid for by a prospective supplier and the sub-committee on local authorities of Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee has now referred the trip to the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission as a breach of procurement rules.
The sub-committee decided to refer the officials last Friday after council officials led by IT manager Mr Samson Madzokere snubbed a hearing in the ongoing investigations of the nearly US$190 million that could not be accounted for by Auditor-General Ms Mildred Chiri in her 2020 audit report.
The city council officials visited South Africa last month for site visits of companies that could supply the modern advanced financial software for an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system.
The Council’s ERP was initially supplied by Quill Associates, before its contract was terminated in 2019 over a US$40 000 dispute.
Since then, Harare City has been using an accounting system designed for small to medium businesses and unsuitable for the details of the hundreds of thousands of ratepayers and the huge transactions handled by the city.
In an interview Friday, chairperson of the sub-committee and Chegutu West legislator Cde Dexter Nduna confirmed the referral of the matter to ZACC.
“They have continued to contravene procurement regulations which prohibits procuring entities from being funded by suppliers when carrying out site visits and inspections,” he said.
“We have also directed that the ZACC be written to in so far as it relates to the sanction that need to be meted on HCC officials, the eight of them.”
Cde Nduna said the sub-committee wanted to get to the bottom of what the unaccounted for money was spent on and if any of the funds were abused for those doing so the to be prosecuted. Mrs Chari did not make allegations of corruption, but stressed that no one in the council employ could tell her how the money was spent.
“We asked the Harare City Council to come to Parliament and they did not come. We wanted to follow through and follow up on how they can recover the US$190 million.
“It was a resolution of the full committee in our last meeting with them that there was need for them to re-engage the previous software supplier in order to reconstruct the documentation that is going to let the Auditor-General tell us where the US$190 million went to,” he said.
Cde Nduna said the sub-committee had also recommended that the council’s re-engagement with the previous software supplier to be completed by October 15.
In her report, Mrs Chiri said council could have overpaid for goods or services, or paid for goods that were never delivered.