Critical staff shortage hits Gweru

Gweru mayor Josiah Makombe

BY Stephen Chadenga

THE Gweru City Council finance department is failing to efficiently discharge its obligations due to shortages of staff in critical positions, mayor Josiah Makombe has said.

In his recent presentation on the state of the city, Makombe said the local authority had been failing to fill the position of finance director since 2019 due to challenges at the Local Government ministry.

“The department’s (finance) operational efficiency has also been affected by shortages of staff in critical positions,” Makombe said.

“As you might appreciate, the post of director of finance has been vacant since April 2019. All necessary steps have been taken to fill in the position, but the only snag is that there is no appointing authority at the ministry.”

He added: “As a stop gap measure, we intend to recruit graduate trainees to assist in clearing the backlog.”

At the end of last year, council also announced that it had embarked on an exercise to recruit nursing staff in a bid to address critical health staff shortages at the local authority.

Over the years, most local authorities have been castigated for having weak financial management systems which experts say results in financial leakages, thereby, compromising service delivery.

Recently, local governance expert Vincent Chakunda said it was disheartening that most local authorities did not have updated financial statements, adding that this had eroded the confidence of ratepayers.

The debtors’ bill at Gweru council currently stands at over $277 million with city fathers saying the arrears heavily impacted service delivery.

But residents associations have blamed the local authority for failing to update its financial books to restore confidence in the ratepayers.