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ZACC urged to investigate local authorities

…out of 92 local authorities in Zimbabwe, only three submitted their 2018 financial statements…

The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) has been urged to investigate local authorities that diverted public funds from their coffers.

Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt Development (ZIMCODD), a civic society organisation that focuses on economic justice, said the 2018 Auditor General’s Report provided evidence that different local authorities were abusing ratepayers’ funds.

An analysis of the 2018 Auditor General’s Report revealed that ratepayers’ funds at local authorities such as Harare, Gweru and Bulawayo were abused in corrupt activities.

“According to the auditor general, out of 92 local authorities in the Zimbabwe, only three local authorities submitted their 2018 financial statements as at 31 May 2019. Even the audit result for City of Bulawayo are based on their 2014 to 2015 financial statement,” said ZIMCODD Programmes Officer, Florence Ndlovu.

She said the audit report confirmed that public delivery services in cities often suffered due to misappropriation of funds.

“The Auditor General’s Report said local authorities were borrowing for recurrent expenditures yet that had a negative bearing on public service delivery, as funds borrowed were not used for projects that generated resources for repayment of the loans and overdrafts,” Ndlovu said quoting the report.

For example, Harare City Council borrowed US$32.5 million from CABS to fund salaries and terminal benefits of employees without ministerial approval provided for in the Urban Councils Act (Chapter 29:15).

Gweru City Council and Mutare City Council were also implicated in borrowing funds for recurrent expenditures amounting to US$775 000 and US$5.4 million respectively.

The programmes manager, urged institutions such as the police and ZACC to take appropriate action, especially when there is evidence that funds were misused.

“The auditor general has the power to question the relevant institutions, to call them into books to explain where the money is, if there is evidence of criminal activity that has been done, we have institutions that should take action.  We have the Police and the Anti-corruption, they should take up these issue into courts and the perpetrators be brought to account,” she said.

Ndlovu noted that misuse of funds was a criminal act which is why local authorities had to be questioned.

According to the 2018 Auditor General’s Report, local authorities were failing to deliver on services as funds for such was diverted resulting in poor sanitation leading to cholera outbreaks

“Amid all forms of malpractices, public services delivery in local authorities have remained poor, with repeated outbreaks of cholera and typhoid being recorded during the same period when resources were being diverted,” stated the audit report.

ZIMCODD is currently holding indabas in different parts of the country to educate citizens about processes that are involved in the management of public funds.

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