‘Urban councils failing to contain corruption’  

Sindiso Mhlophe

URBAN councils lack the required political will to fight the scourge of corruption and are not dedicated to end the cancer which has resulted in poor service delivery, the Daily News reports.


This comes as various urban councils, mayors and councillors have been entangled in corruption scandals involving the allocation of stands and use of public resources, among other things.
Local government expert at Midlands State University Vincent Chakunda, speaking during an online dialogue facilitated by Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ), said local authorities were not doing their best to fight corruption because of various reasons.
“The mere fact that they are failing to produce accounts for auditing gives every reason for us to think that all the corruption is actually hidden in the accounts which are not being produced on time and submitted for external auditing.


“Those of you who have seen the auditor-general’s report for the year ending 2018, will note that of the 92 local authorities in Zimbabwe, only three managed to submit up to date financial accounts for auditing by the auditor-general. Harare City Council was among those who didn’t submit their audited reports,” Chakunda said. “The second reason is partly because of weak internal audit systems. If you are to look at the majority of the audit reports, you will see that it takes an external auditor or auditor-general to uncover corruption that is happening in the local authorities.
“This means that without the internal audit system raising the red flag corrupt activities continue unchecked for many years.”
Chakunda added that owing to corruption, service delivery had collapsed in urban councils, leaving residents without access to adequate water, sanitation and hygiene (Wash) services.

“There is general collapse of best practise in the management of resources in local authorities due to a number of factors that have been raised by various stakeholders, including corruption.


“Our media is littered by serious evidence of gross abuse of resources, corruption, scandals involving politicians, local authorities and councillors.


“It’s a trend that is cutting across all authorities in the country and there is a serious decline in public resources. The resources that are being collected from the people for service delivery are actually not being used appropriately and in accordance with the expectations of the residents,” Chakunda said.

Transparency International Zimbabwe programmes officer Tashinga Zamba added that urban councils were not fighting corruption whole heartedly as evidenced by years of recurring problems.
“I don’t think that corruption is being fought whole heartedly in councils because the auditor general’s report, if you check it from 2015 up to date, the same things are recurring and coming up. Why is it that councils are not reforming? Why is it that councils are not implementing whole heartedly the recommendations of the auditor-general so that the public will believe and see action at hand in the fight against corruption?
“This is why as TIZ we are coming down to the people to say that you need to have the power to ask your leaders and councillors and hold them to account.”
Speaking at the same event, Harare City Council spokesperson Michael Chideme pleaded for patience from residents as local authorities attempt to purge the scourge.
“I believe our council is doing enough to fight corruption. The current investigations that have led to whatever is happening right now were initiated internally. So, the investigating unit is our municipal police and it was initiated by the office of the town clerk and the mayor which is part of the auditor-generals’ recommendations to say let us bring transparency.
“Yes, at the moment there is a lot of agitation. We understand it but we pray for patience so that at the end of the exercise people can come in and say that the job that was done was good and you managed to set the record straight. As you know there are a number of people before the courts now so it will be difficult to comment on some of these issues,” Chideme said.

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