The Sunday Mail
SEVERAL Harare and Bulawayo councilors face suspension and imprisonment for allegedly engaging in corrupt activities and abuse of office, The Sunday Mail has learnt. Government will in a few weeks launch investigations to flush out senior managers at Harare Town House who defied a directive to slash salaries and allowances.
It has been gathered that Government is also set to take action against some councillors in Bulawayo who owe the local authority more than US$500 000 in rates arrears.
According to an audit ordered by the Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Ministry, more than 40 directors and managers at Harare City Council defied a Government directive to slash hefty salaries and perks.
The audit report recommended that further investigations be conducted to substantiate the extent of revenue abused through “obscene” salaries to senior executives.
Secretary for Local Government, Engineer George Mlilo, told The Sunday Mail that though Government was still finalising the report, further investigations would take place with punitive action certain.
“We are going to conduct further investigations on the councillors and we can either investigate while council is in place or will might to choose to investigate after suspending some councillors,” he said.
“We had not yet presented the case to Harare City but it seems they have already started taking action.
“As a ministry, we cannot get involved with the officials (managers), but we will deal with the councillors.
“The investigation will tell us the magnitude of the results of the audit report.
“Further investigations will show if there are any other hidden salaries that the officials were receiving.
“We will also be looking at the allowances to see if they were paying themselves over 40 percent of the 30 percent of the salaries.
“Government issued a directive in October 2014 for local authorities to cut salaries of some senior executive posts, however, Harare City Council only managed to implement it on 25 July 2015.”
Eng. Mlilo said in Bulawayo, some councillors collectively owed the local authority over US$500 000.
“We expect them to clear the money or else they risk going to jail.
“Action will definitely be taken on all councillors because that is one of the recommendations from the audit reports,” Eng. Mlilo said.
Combined Harare Residents Association chairperson Mr Mfundo Mlilo called on Government to put in place policies that will see mayors and councillors having access to financial records.
“Our local authorities are a bit flawed since the managing officials are the only ones that can access the financial records,” he said.
“There is need for Government to put in place policies that empower the mayor and councilors so that they too can be able to access the financial records.”
In August 2016, Local Government Minister Saviour Kasukuwere suspended Gweru mayor, Clr Hamutendi Kombayi, and 18 councilors for poor governance.
A month later he suspended four Bulawayo councilors following a raft of allegations involving alleged underhand dealings and rampant corruption.