Gweru council workers go for 24 years without leave

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By Robert Tapfumaneyi

GWERU City Council is sitting with employees who have not taken their annual leave for a staggering 24 years, Auditor General Mildred Chiri has revealed in her 2018 annual report.

According to the report, Zimbabwe’s local governance systems are fraught with weak governance structures, lack of accountability and transparency.

Chiri also cited the absence of policies and procedure manuals as well as non-compliance with statutory regulations, giving examples of Chitungwiza Municipality, Karoi Town Council, Bubi Rural District Council among others as operating without procedures and manuals.

But it was Gweru which failed to reconcile its rates and water accounts among other things.

“Its employees have accumulated excess days which effectively imply that some of them have not been on leave for at least 17 years and others 24 years. Gweru was also unable to provide layout plans for the stands during the year,” the report said.

There was lack of overall accountability by Harare City Council as Sunshine Holdings financial statements have not been accounted for.

“The decision to hire equipment at a cost of $222 950 when they needed to repair their own equipment at a cost of $159 969 was economically unsustainable,” the report reveals.

“The council also borrowed an aggregate of US$32 500 000 to fund salaries and terminal benefits of employees without ministerial approval.”

And another dark alley is Harare’s weak systems: “Only five out of the 32 required ambulances were available. There were no documented procedures in place to handle some operational and veterinary issues. For instance, the case where the council recorded cattle deaths averaging 36 per month (433 for the year under review).”

On Mutare City Council, the AG’s report said the municipality was financing both recurrent and capital expenditure by an overdraft facility of at least $400 000.

“67% of the council’s tread water was not billed as it was lost mainly through leakages, non-metered connections and accounts not created in the system. The local authority had 15 872 non-functional water meters.

“Chitungwiza’s average daily supply of treated water for municipality was 24 985 cubic meters against a demand of 62 000 cubic meters,” said Chiri.

“Pfura Rural District Council was under-resourced to the extent that in some instances, it hired ox-drawn carts to collect refuse.”

Eleven revenue collection and debt management issues were raised by the AG’s report.

“These were mainly characterised by lack of proper debt management practices and incomplete records,” the report added.

“Hwange and Mwenezi Rural district Councils wrote off receivables amounting to $5 917 622 and $1 600 000 respectively without approval.”

In another case, Chegutu Municipality could not reconcile a variance of $294 417 for its stand sales whilst Bubi Rural District Council had unsupported debtors amounting to $317 666.

The 2018 report also said that although there was an improvement from 2015 to 2016 (reduction from 68% to 49%), there has been a notable surge from 49% to 67% in the governance issues in 2017 and 2018 respectively, 50% governance issues were noted during audit.