Blessings Chidakwa Municipal Correspondent
An audit has exposed the rot and penchant for luxury at the cash-strapped Chitungwiza Municipality where “undeserving” managers got two annual holiday trips to a regional destination of choice at the expense of ratepayers.
The audit covering the period 2013 to October 2019 and instituted by council reveals that managers were entitled to a residential stand measuring thousands of square metres in a suburb of choice in Harare, as well as a commercial and an industrial stand in Chitungwiza at half price.
Besides top notch vehicles, the bosses also paid full school fees for at least six children of their relatives while they were enjoying the same benefit for their own minor dependents.
In clear disregard of good corporate governance, Chitungwiza has been operating without a payroll since February last year, with employees not receiving payslips.
Recruitment procedures were flouted, nepotism was the order of the day while ghost workers appeared on the payroll.
At some point, two employees were appointed to act on one post, but their salaries were graded differently.
At the centre of the storm is suspended town clerk Dr George Makunde, who was allegedly receiving monthly rental allowances despite staying in a council-owned house in Hatfield, Harare.
The chief accounting officer’s utility bills were also footed by council, contrary to his signed contract.
Human resources manager Mrs Mary Rashamira Mukonyora also allegedly falsified her official status and awarded herself lucrative benefits, including acting allowance for a non-existent post.
The audit noted that Mrs Mukonyora, who was in grade 13, was paid acting allowance for the post of head human resources (grade 14) which was not on the organogram at the time.
As a result of the anomalies, Mrs Mukonyora was entitled to benefits which directors senior to her were not entitled to.
“She allocated herself a basic salary of $7 500 and this was for a grade 14 salary. She was entitled to a 2 500 square metre residential stand in a suburb of her choice in Harare, entitled to buy one commercial stand and industrial stand from Chitungwiza at 50 percent value of the stand, entitled to be allocated top-of-the-range vehicles — Amarok, Prado, Fortuner, Navara or a 4×4 Toyota Hilux.
“She was entitled to two holiday trips yearly to a regional destination and council would pay a return business class air ticket. Other directors with a grade above her did not have such benefits and this was against the good corporate governance of public institutions,” the report by audit manager Mr Admire Chipunza reads.
Chamber secretary Ms Priscilla Vengesai reportedly received a full salary while on maternity leave within the first two months of employment, contrary to the Labour Act.
Section 18 (1) of the Act provides that employees only start enjoying full salary while on maternity leave after serving at least one year of employment.
The auditor also noticed that on May 31, 2013 there was a cash withdrawal of $23 472.87 which was done from management salary account number 61700419069 (FBC), but no one could be identified to have made that withdrawal.
“The payroll system is down since February 2019 and no payroll is being run since then. The salaries officer said they pay using a previous payroll that was yet to be paid and make manual adjustments to it.
“This system will open floodgates for corruption and fraud and figures may be manipulated for personal gain at the expense of council,” Mr Chipunza wrote.
“A former council employee A Makanda was still actively appearing on the payroll in 2014 yet he last reported for duty on July 4, 2008 and council lost around $20 000 in form of undue salaries to him. No proof of recovery of that amount could be seen despite audit recommendation in 2014 to recover that amount.”
Other employees who continued on payroll in 2014 include Davison Madziwana (EC number 31107) whose contract was terminated on July 18, 2013 and John Sisimayi (EC number 30046) whose contract was terminated on January 30, 2012.
“Two employees were appointed to act as a secretary to the HR at same time; that is S Maswata and R Murungu. Murungu was appointed to act on May 9, 2017 yet Maswata was already acting in the post. While the two secretaries were being paid acting allowances, Maswata was getting a grade 11 allowance and Murungu a grade 10 allowance,” the report reads.
Dr Makunde was suspended last year on allegations of gross incompetence, while Mrs Mukonyora was fired on allegations of abuse of office.
Ms Vengesai, who was dismissed by council after being found guilty of breaching conditions of her contract in 2015, won a lawsuit for outstanding salaries in February last year.