Net closing in on corrupt City of Harare officials

By Wellington Makonese

THE net is closing in on Harare City Council officials fingered in the 2020 Auditor General’s Report, where ratepayers were reportedly prejudiced of around US$200 million.

Having agreed with Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee to furnish them with details of the unaccounted US$200 million allegedly lost in a billing system scam, the Harare City Council appears to be trapped in its net as the city fathers dodged proceedings for accountability.

The local authority’s woes have been further compounded by new revelations that they are seeking more suitors for the billing system in defiance of Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (PRAZ) regulations.

“Resolution is to say by 15 September they could have reconstituted and re-engage BIQ to find the missing money but now it’s more than eight days they haven’t. We have found more transgression on PRAZ which say councils should at its costs deal with vendors,” said Honourable Dexter Nduna, the chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee.

Their recent move has also drawn the attention of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission.

“They are eight of them from the council who have gone against the rules. We have recommended that the leadership and team be interrogated and by the 15th if they haven’t furnished enough details, ZACC whom we have in our committee, will effect an arrest on criminal abuse of office. We have witnessed the rot for a long time,” said Honourable Nduna.

Residents who have been deprived of deserved services believe the case is just the tip of the iceberg.

“We are very worried that we have no water in some areas but we get exorbitant chargers. The fact that there is no billing system means there might be dodgy stuff happening.”

In its recommendation, the Public Accounts Committee, guided by the Auditor General’s Report noted the need for the local authority to reconstruct the BIQ billing system and for all the payrolls that have been hidden to be made available for transparency.