By Felix Matasva
MUTARE: The Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) says public sector auditing is an important tool to measure the state of preparedness by local authorities, to autonomously run their affairs effectively in the devolution era.
A number of local authorities dotted around the country were recently fingered in the 2019 Auditor General’s (AG) report for financial irregularities which ran afoul with local government’s procurement policies.
Speaking recently at a Mutare Constituency Indaba on Auditor General’s 2019 Audit report, ZIMCODD campaigns manager Angellah Mandoreba said local authorities must self-examine in the context of devolution, their ability to make efficient and effective financial decisions.
“This is a wake-up call for local authorities to put in place fiscal reforms so that when devolution is implemented we will be at a good footing. Can we really deliver our mandate efficiently and effectively with minimal supervision from central government,” she said.
“How prepared are we when we are not taking Auditor General’s recommendations seriously? How prepared are we when we see financial irregularities year in, year out?
“Public sector auditing remains very important in assessing the extent of local authorities’ preparedness to run their affairs when devolution is implemented,” said Mandoreba.
She urged residents to actively push for local authorities to observe recommendations made by Auditor-General Mildred Chiri, in her 2019 audit report.
She said public sector audits are a conduit for residents to keep track of any irregularities within local authorities and informs them on the right time to call the shots.
“Citizen agency is key to improved service delivery. When issues about public funds utilisation are brought to the fore by Auditor General, residents must take action for redress. It is a fuss that in Zimbabwe we lack the culture of public accountability, Mutare City can be given recommendations by Auditor General’s office but, implementation will be another story.
“As citizens, we must not ignore calls by Auditor General. As rights holders, we must ensure that Mutare City implements recommendations made by Auditor General.
“Residents must ensure that all anomalies pointed by Auditor General’s Report are addressed. If those anomalies are addressed there is a high probability that public service delivery will improve,” said Mandoreba.
She challenged Mutare City Council to implement recommendations made in the explosive AG’s report saying this will enhance a good corporate image for the local authority.
Speaking during the same event, Mutare mayor Blessing Tandi warned Mutare residents to be wary of how devolution would be implemented by the government.
“To me, it is more of decentralisation than devolved power. As we speak no local authority has devolved, devolution may not come in as we think that probably there will be more devolved powers.
“Let the people of Mutare know that in the preamble of our constitution says Zimbabwe is a unitary state. There were never anytime Manicaland had constitutional devolution power or obligation.
The AG 2019 report noted the Mutare City Council was using water disconnections as a cash cow strategy while it was still owed US$330 000 for undelivered water pipes by Shitazburg Enterprises since 2010.