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Sunday, July 14, 2024

Harare City Council in corruption storm

Story by John Nhandara

HARARE City Council has once again brewed a storm with revelations the local authority is in a shadowy process of acquiring an overpriced accounting software estimated at over US$50 million from a South African firm.

The local Authority is in the process of acquiring Enterprise Resource Planning software from South Africa at an inflated cost of US$57 million.

The matter has since attracted the attention of the office of Harare Metropolitan Province’s Permanent Secretary for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Mr Tafadzwa Muguti who has called for an immediate probe.

“City of Harare has decided to go and get a system which can be made in Zimbabwe. It is therefore insane for the local authority to be seen acquiring software at such an exorbitant price when we have poor service delivery. Our office is going to look into the matter because it is not justifiable to spend US$57 million buying billing software and ERP software,” he said.

Harare residents on the other hand are fuming claiming they were not consulted on the matter.

“The billing system is in shambles, of concern is that they want to acquire overpriced software yet we have cheaper alternatives. They never consulted us after all,” said Zimbabwe National Organisation of Associations and Residents Trusts chairperson, Mr Shalva Chikomba.

Chairperson of Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee, sub-committee on Local Authorities, Honourable Dexter Nduna says the city council is defying orders to implement recommendations of the auditor general’s report which unearthed some unaccounted funds worth US$200 million.

“Harare City Council has not adhered to the advice from the auditor general that reconstruction of BIQ system is the only way they can get to attempt to see where the missing US$200 million can be recovered,” he said.

“We also see that they want to purchase this software and the advice from the committee is we do not go that route. We already have a report presented in Parliament and we have already reported some Harare City Council officials to ZACC for criminal abuse of office.”

The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission says it is now seized with the matter.

“ZACC received information to the effect that the accounts of Harare City Council were not balancing by amounts amounting to US$200 million and we have instituted investigations to establish what transpired as well as the procurement of a new system that will help them establish what happened. Currently, the matter is under investigation,” said ZACC Spokesperson, Commissioner Thandiwe Malobane.

Harare City Council Mayor, Councillor Jacob Mafume confirmed the shenanigans of acquiring an overpriced software by the local authority claiming the deal has since hit a brick wall after it was stopped by the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe.

“There was an attempt by some members of staff to get an overpriced accounting system worth US$57 million. Thankfully this was stopped by PRAZ, as councillors we raised our concerns.

The council’s Enterprise Resource Planning system was previously supplied by a company called Quill Associates before the contract was terminated in 2019 over payment disputes.

The opposition-led council has on many occasions courted media attention for the wrong reasons, especially on corruption-related matters that include the illegal selling of stands.

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