HomeNewsChombo, Mahachi clash over audit

Chombo, Mahachi clash over audit

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Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo has clashed with Harare Town Clerk Tendai Mahachi over a human resources audit which was expected to expose ghost workers within the council.
Chombo and Mahachi have been issuing conflicting public statements on the audit, something that has irked city fathers who are accusing the minister of interfering in council operations and trying to scuttle the audit.
Last week, Mahachi said the audit was on course and a full report would be ready by the end of August.
Surprisingly, Chombo was quoted in weekend media reports saying the audit had been shelved because councillors intended to milk the local authority of thousands of dollars.
Chombo claimed councillors had strategically placed themselves for a killing – demanding $1 600 each as allowances for taking part in the audit exercise.
Councillors yesterday expressed outrage at the minister’s assertions saying the minister was ill-informed.
“Chombo is not being honest,” said councillor Panganayi Charumbira, chairperson of the council’s human resources committee. “Councillors were long removed from the audit exercise and we have no idea where the minister is getting his information about these ridiculous allowances from.”
Chombo was quoted in newspapers on Sunday saying the audit had been shelved to bar councillors from receiving undeserved $1 600 in allowances from the process.
“The audit has been put on hold. It was a necessary decision because the councillors want to use it as a vehicle to get allowances by spending more time at the city council in the name of the audit,” he said.
Mahachi yesterday said he had no idea what the minister was talking about since as far as he was concerned, the audit was proceeding unhindered and results were expected by end of August.
“We are still investigating and a report should be ready by end of August. We are proceeding well with the audit. We can’t say what we have found or haven’t found yet, but we are within our stipulated timeframe and we have no reason to panic,” Mahachi said.
Councillors said the conflicting statements showed that Chombo was interfering with council operations.
“As councillors, we are totally divorced from proceedings of this audit exercise. We are not even aware of what is happening with these investigations,” said a councillor who preferred to remain unnamed.
He said Chombo’s weekend statements were part of what had become his traditional smear campaign against urban councillors, some of which bordered on defamation.
“Utterances that we are set to benefit from audit allowances are a smear campaign by Chombo. As usual, the minister is bent on portraying councillors as greedy people. But the people have also not forgotten that Chombo has been doing a lot of that lately,” the councillor said.
Councillors initiated the idea of staff audit after it emerged that the local authority had ghost workers some of whom may have been placed on the council payroll through political patronage.
Harare City Council is now dominated by MDC councillors who are alleged to be working on bringing out the rot that former Zanu PF city fathers were allegedly steeped in during decades of uninterrupted rule.Relations between Town House and the Ministry of Local Government have been bad because of what the city fathers say is “unnecessary interference by Chombo”.
Recently Harare mayor Muchadeyi Masunda and Chombo have been at loggerheads over the same apparently politically-motivated differences.

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