Ministry to probe Karoi council

Auditor General Mildred Chiri

By Nhau Mangirazi

Karoi town council has come under the Local Government ministry spotlight after the ministry resolved to deploy a team to probe council accounts after Auditor-General Mildred Chiri exposed lack of professionalism in its operations.

The probe team, tipped to be headed by a district administrator from Harare, is expected to investigate allegations of double allocations of stands, among other issues.

There are simmering divisions between some councillors and senior management over the shambolic housing department system that is frustrating residents and investors.

The housing department, under director Sibongile Mujuruki, has been dragged to court for failing to effect change of ownership for various properties.

According to Chiri’s report released last week, governance issues continue to dominate her findings over the years.

She noted that although there was an improvement from 2015 to 2016 (a reduction from 68% to 49%), there has been a notable surge from 49% to 67% in the governance issues in 2017 and 2018 respectively.

‘Fifty-nine governance issues were noted during audit, these related to the absence of policies and procedure manuals, as well as non-compliance with statutory regulations. Of note, Chitungwiza Municipality, Karoi Town Council, Bubi Rural District Council, among others, were operating without key policies and procedures manuals,’ Chiri noted.

Karoi town council, battling to recover over $6 million owed by ratepayers, was also mentioned for non-payment of statutory and other obligations.

‘‘Notable cases were Kariba Municipality ($5 309 208), Redcliff Municipality ($2 916 365) and Karoi Town Council ($1 936 329),” Chiri said.

The farming town council had its accounts garnished by the National Social Security Authority, among other debtors.

Workers have gone for over two years without salaries, while pensioners are battling to get their monies after council failed to remit what is due to them.

Council chairperson Abel Matsika confirmed that the Local Government ministry officials would be visiting the town.

“They are coming to investigate corporate governance issues, estate funds, land management and stands allocation and relationship between council and investors,” he said.

Matsika welcomed the probe team, saying it would help clear the air on some sticking matters between residents, investors, councillors and management.

“We are happy as the probe team will help us in solving some outstanding issues that we were failing to come to a compromise as an institution,” he said.