By Farai Moyo | All hell has broken loose in Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s traditional constituency that is now under his wife, Chirumanzu Zibagwe.
ZimEye can reliably reveal that flashing fireworks have begun with high level investigations starting today following suspected abuse of funds. “Mnangagwa’s council is being raided today with backers of the VP being probed for abusing allowances,” a source told ZimEye last night of the development covered by the local Mirror last week.
Council funds are reportedly being abused, according to the investigation.
Chirumhanzu Rural District Council which has the potential to be rich because of its gold, forestry and irrigation schemes is in dire financial straits and the District Administrator Tapson Chivanga has called for urgent intervention to stop the local authority from sliding into insolvency.
It owes debtors a total of $929 000 and of that Zimra is owed $284 758 while workers’ salaries have not been paid for the past four months and arrears are hurtling up at a staggering rate of 50% every six months, according to a damning report sent to Midlands Provincial Administrator Abiot Maronge, on September 8, 2017.
Chivanga blamed the state of affairs on the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Lovemore Chatikobo and his staff whom he accused of incompetence and mismanagement. He described the local authority’s finance department as chaotic and the internal audit department as producing poor and incredible reports.
He further accused the local authority of operating without systems and managers of pursuing agendas that do not add value to council. He said council management was undermining the chairman Tapera Dzitirai and councillors in order to further personal interests. There was also an illegal culture at the council of holding clandestine caucuses before council meetings where certain councillors including the vice-chairman Norman Mureriwa are allegedly mobilised by management in order to achieve certain results in council meetings, said Chivanga’s report.
He said meetings are held but there are no minutes taken and no no reports presented and this seriously compromised the councillors’ ability to make comprehensive contributions. Chivanga also accused management of concealing some allowances which they were getting. He said council was also not cooperating with the DA’s office.
The DA wondered how The Mirror got the report when asked for comment and referred the matter to the PA.
“How did you get that? It’s not for public consumption but the best person to speak to is the PA,” said Chivanga.
Maronge confirmed that he had the report and described it as comprehensive. He said that his office will study it and make corrective measures if there are administrative issues that may need attention. He said action will be taken if there are areas where it is called for.
In the report Chivanga went on to say that Chirumhanzu’s internal audit department was incompetent to the extent that it can barely prepare a report and he accused the CEO of compounding the problem by failing to supervise the finance and audit units.
The council has as a result not had an external audit since 2014.
The report which covers the first seven months of 2017 also insinuates corruption at council. Chivanga accuses council of bloating its annual budget to $2,9 million for 2017 when management knows that it can barely collect 33% of that amount. He said that the reason for overstating the budget is so that council executives can collect higher salaries and allowances at the Government sanctioned service delivery to salaries ratio of 70: 30.
Chivanga concludes that the budget submitted by Chirumhanzu is not sustainable as proved by trends over the years.
He also suspects that council could be understating its revenue collections and the funds being abused.
“Alternatively to the worst, it could be the collection is understated and being abused as there is no reason to keep the budget at unsustainable levels. This provokes disastrous consequences and certainly leading council towards insolvency.
“The council is currently in deficit of $929 000 excluding employment costs when considering that employees and councillors have not been paid for more than four months. If this trend continues up to December 2017, the next 2018 budget will be wiped out before it is even approved by the Minister or alternatively council will be insolvent before the next budget is approved,” said Chivanga.
The local authority was also blamed for lacking transparency and therefore not consulting stakeholders in its day-today business.
“In the circumstances, one would notice that management is educated but they are strangers in the system. They are dealing and practising local governance but mostly pursuing different agendas that are not related to their working environment and do not add any value to it.