Zvamaida Murwira-Senior Reporter
ROWDY CCC councillors, uncomfortable with scrutiny into their books, disrupted a meeting by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) in Chinhoyi yesterday as the country’s anti-graft body continues to clamp down on abuse of funds by local authorities.
In its extensive and comprehensive compliance assessments, spot-checks, systems, and processes reviews to compel local authorities to comply with policies and regulations that promote integrity, transparency, and accountability, Zacc has so far managed to save US$20 million from abuse.
As part of ongoing engagement countrywide with State entities and local authorities, Zacc officials were in Chinhoyi municipality yesterday to brief the opposition-dominated council on its findings on compliance and system review but the meeting was disrupted.
A source at Chinhoyi civic centre said an official from Zacc struggled to make her presentation as councillors heckled her making it difficult to point out deficiencies in council.
“Chinhoyi was one of the councils caught up in the corruption web of land deals where undeserving beneficiaries got residential stands. CCC councillors heckled the Zacc official who struggled to deliver her presentation as they feared that they would be exposed. The meeting had to be stopped until in the afternoon to allow those offending councillors either to be ejected or be reprimanded. It is quite embarrassing that CCC members known for their rabid criticism of the Government were caught up in the corruption web but fought to have that swept under the carpet,” said the source.
Zacc spokesperson Commissioner John Makamure confirmed receiving the reports but said they would investigate further.
“We condemn in the strongest sense disruption of Zacc processes which are enshrined in the laws of the land. That is tantamount to obstruction of justice,” said Comm Makamure.
He said the compliance and system review had been very successful as they have seen losses to the tune of US$20 million being averted.
“As a fulfilment of its constitutional and statutory mandate, the Department of Corruption Prevention through the compliance and systems unit managed to undertake compliance and system reviews in local authorities, Government Ministries, and State-Owned Enterprises. Zacc has over the past two years averted losses to government amounting to an estimated over US$20 million through its proactive corruption prevention programmes,” said Comm Makamure.
“The main objective of these exercises was to ascertain institutional adherence to the national legal frameworks, institutional and administrative processes, procedures and practices governing institutional operations and procurement procedures.”
Some of the reviewed institutions include Norton Town Council, Umzingwane Rural District Council (RDC), Mberengwa RDC, Zaka RDC, Karoi Town Council, Bulawayo City Council, Hwange Local Board, Mutare City Council, Makonde RDC, Chegutu Municipality and Mutoko RDC.
Others include the Presidential and National Scholarship Programme, the Ministry of Health and Child Care, National Social Security Authority (NSSA), Natpharm among others.
“On local authorities, major findings include maladministration in the allocation of land by council. In some local authorities, the land was being used to pay salaries, statutory obligations, golden handshakes, and other unprocedural land sales to favour friends, relatives, or family members,” said Comm Makamure.
On flouting of tender procedures, Comm Makamure said most councils were not fully adhering to the enabling law as some procured machinery that was never delivered.
“There was also abuse of devolution funds. For example some councils are paying salaries from devolution funds, procuring condition of service vehicles using devolution funds, and non-implementation of external auditor’s recommendations,” he said.
On NSSA, Comm Makamure said Zacc has made tremendous progress on the current systems and compliance review of the parastatal, and findings and recommendations will be published soon.
“We all clamour for an efficient social security entity that shuns corruption in all its forms for the benefit of pensioners who are currently getting a raw deal from the organisation,” he said.
Owing to Zacc interventions, said Comm Makamure, Norton Town Council recovered US$15 5000 from Podilo Investments for a non-delivered Roller Compactor, and an Education Levy amounting to more than $1 000 000 meant for the construction of a school was also recovered.
In Mudzi US$150 000 worth of cement was recovered from a local supplier.
“Mudzi RDC purchased cement worth over US$150 000 from a local supplier and it was not delivered. Zacc intervened and the cement was recovered and delivered to council and the cement has since been used for a drain ling project,” he said.
Zacc also directed the reversal of the golden handshake for three retiring Umzingwane RDC officials who had been allocated three houses worth US$90 000 each.
“Furthermore, the housing policy should be changed so that the councils’ conditions of service houses are perpetual and not regarded as retirement packages.
“The Commission will ramp up these reviews this year and beyond targeting highly prone corruption areas such as health services delivery, agriculture, and mining sectors,” Comm Makamure said.