Harare city treasurer Misheck Mubvumbi has denied allegations by the City of Harare Workers’ Union that the capital did not have a separate water account resulting in money intended for water being used for other purposes.
The workers’ union, which appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Local Government, chaired by Chimanimani West MP Lynette Karenyi, told the MPs in November while giving oral evidence that the money meant for water was not being used for the intended purposes.
Harare City Council director of water services Christopher Zvobgo also told the committee when he appeared before it in November that there was no separate account for water.
However, Mubvumbi told the local government committee that Harare City Council opened a separate water account soon after Zinwa had been relieved of managing Harare’s water and the task transferred back to the City of Harare.
“Unlike other departments, the Harare Water department maintains its own account and they prepare their own income and expenditure statements and balance sheets,” said Mubvumbi.
“They pay their own expenses from that bank account.” The workers’ union told the committee that some suburbs in Harare experienced perennial water shortages because the City of Harare failed to repair burst pipes and were only limited to an amount of $10 000, not enough to service Harare.
“What is happening is that money meant for water services is being used for other purposes like salaries at the expense of water supplies. That is why Mabvuku and other suburbs have water problems because there are no spares to do the repairs,” the workers’ union told the committee.
Zvobgo told the committee that the ideal situation was to have a separate water account for the City of Harare specifically for water services. The withdrawal limit of
$10 000 only, the workers revealed slowed progress on the repairs of burst water pipes as it was not enough to procure spares.
But even after extensive questioning by the committee, Mubvumbi did not budge maintaining that the water department was running smoothly without interference.
“If there are apprehensions that something amiss has been done, it is better to have the account audited so that the third party will be able to verify what is happening,” said Mubvumbi.
The committee told Mubvumbi that it was concerned that any two of the five signatories could abuse the account and no one would take responsibility as it would be difficult to tell who had misused the funds.