MUTARE — Local Government Minister, Saviour Kasukuwere has ordered council’s senior managers to pay back the money they prejudiced the financially hamstrung local authority.
A recent audit of council’s affairs revealed shocking instances whereby the city fathers violated statutory instruments.
The audit also unravelled graft involving senior council employees.
Kasukuwere has said government will leave no stone unturned in making sure that all those who abused public funds are held accountable.
He said: “They must pay back the money. There are no two ways about that.”
While acknowledging the fact that some council directors such as former town clerk, Obert Muzawazi, had already resigned from council, Kasukuwere said the municipality must find ways to recover its dues even from those who left council.
“He (Muzawazi) has his terminal benefits and we can still recover our money from there. The city fathers will play a crucial role. They have to make sure that measures are undertaken to that effect,” he said.
Mutare mayor, Tatenda Nhamarare, could not shed light on measures being put in place by council to recover money lost to council executives through alleged fraud.
“I cannot comment now on the matter. I can’t pre-empt what we are planning. I can only comment when everything has been finalised,” said Nhamarare.
The audit also revealed that salaries and allowances for managers were still obscene in defiance of a ministerial directive that introduced a salary cap on all parastatals, government departments and local authorities.
The managers, who pocketed a combined US$793 248 in salaries per annum against US$452 400 they were entitled, prejudiced council US$340 848 in revenue that could have been channelled towards service delivery.
Council management further awarded themselves unbudgeted for mega perks in respect of holiday, water, electricity, housing allowances and school fees paid for their children at the most expensive private learning institutions.
The managers were earning a combined US$199 279 in non-taxed fringe benefits and allowances, in what the audit described as an act of tax evasion in clear violation of the Income Tax Act.
This forced the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority to garnish council accounts to recover taxes amounting to US$477 000.
The audit also observed that while general council workers had gone for 18 months without salaries, the same council was issuing loans to senior managers to purchase personal motor vehicles.
Between 2012 and 2015, a total of US$279 951,45 was disbursed towards car loans for senior managers, read the audit.
“Council obtained funds to finance the vehicle purchase scheme through a bank overdraft, which attracted 18 percent interest per annum while the same council was advancing vehicle loans to senior management at a subsidised two percent interest charge.
“This subsidy was not provided for in the budget as an employment cost as required in terms of the Urban Councils’ Act, chapter 29:15 section 288 (7),” the audit stated.
It further showed that a total of US$1 286 187, 64 was lost between January and October 2015. Management could not account for the money.
This was in violation of the eastern city’s own financial regulations Item 08:06, which states that all “monies received shall be banked in full”.
The audit report went on to reveal that funds amounting to US$3 191 591,96, collected from specific billable amounts over the same period, were not banked into their respective fund accounts.
Instead, banking was done according to management directives without paying attention to the fund account into which the funds were supposed to be banked.
The audit also indicated that the decision by management to externalise funds were meant to weaken the internal control system were ring fenced funds could be abused.
Moreover, the audit established that the Manicaland provincial capital was operating an unregistered medical aid society — Mutare Municipality Medical Aid Society, which had no management board, framework, policy and guidelines on how it should be administered and no evidence that the scheme was adopted by council.
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