Hun­dreds of thou­sands lost to fly-by-night sup­pli­ers

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Aux­ilia Ka­ton­go­mara

BU­L­AWAYO City Coun­cil might have lost over $1 mil­lion through mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tion of funds and ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties in award­ing ten­ders.

The coun­cil has been ac­cused of award­ing ten­ders to non-trace­able com­pa­nies that could have eas­ily de­frauded the mu­nic­i­pal­ity, a par­lia­men­tary port­fo­lio com­mit­tee has re­vealed.

This emerged when se­nior coun­cil of­fi­cials who in­cluded act­ing town clerk, Mrs Sikhangele Zhou, fi­nance di­rec­tor Kimp­ton Ndi­mande, and in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy di­rec­tor Mr Mpaza­miso Nde­bele who is also the as­sis­tant fi­nance man­ager and chief in­ter­nal au­di­tor Mr Ten­nyson Mpunzi ap­peared be­fore the Public Ac­counts Com­mit­tee where they gave oral ev­i­dence in Bu­l­awayo yes­ter­day.

The com­mit­tee quizzed the quar­tet fol­low­ing a re­port from the Au­di­tor Gen­eral which showed a num­ber of ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties in the ac­count­ing sys­tem at the lo­cal au­thor­ity.

The re­port by the AG showed that there were ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties in the pur­chase of am­bu­lances and ve­hi­cle track­ers in 2010 as coun­cil paid in ad­vance for the sup­ply of am­bu­lances amount­ing to $205 106 and later paid an­other sup­plier $100 000 in ad­vance. None of the ve­hi­cles had been de­liv­ered. Mrs Zhou con­firmed that coun­cil had been duped by Axis Med­i­cal Cor­po­ra­tion and Tra­cat En­gi­neer­ing both based in Harare and they had dis­ap­peared.

“To be hon­est both sup­pli­ers were from Harare and they haven’t de­liv­ered. We even in­sti­tuted court pro­ceed­ings. We won the case but they (sup­pli­ers) are nowhere to be found. They are no longer avail­able at their given ad­dresses. We have en­gaged the po­lice to trace them,” said Mrs Zhou.

Com­mit­tee mem­ber and Mu­toko North MP Cde David Chap­fika said it was neg­li­gence by the lo­cal au­thor­ity that smacked of pos­si­ble col­lu­sion be­tween coun­cil em­ploy­ees and the two sup­pli­ers.

The of­fi­cials were also grilled on the lack of sup­port­ing doc­u­ments for re­pairs and main­te­nance amount­ing to $151 504 and $179 396.

Mr Ndi­mande said the doc­u­ments could not be found be­cause there is high de­mand for them from var­i­ous in­sti­tu­tions such as Zimra and Zi­nara. He how­ever said there were in­voices to show that pay­ment was made.

The com­mit­tee asked why there was a vari­ance amount­ing up to $1 mil­lion in 2010.

The AG also noted that coun­cil did not do monthly rec­on­cil­i­a­tion be­tween the pay­roll sum­maries and gen­eral ledger re­sult­ing in vari­ances of $345 236 in 2010 and $963 108 in 2011.

“You will re­alise that dur­ing that time we were up­grad­ing from the Zim­babwe dol­lar to the mul­ti­c­ur­rency hence there was a back­log in rec­on­cil­ing the bal­ances,” said Mr Ndi­mande.

MDC Mata­bele­land South pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tive mem­ber, Ms Priscilla Misi­hairab­wiMushonga, pressed Mr Ndi­mande to ex­plain the $1 mil­lion vari­ance.

“The cor­rec­tive ac­tion has been taken to the sys­tem to rec­on­cil­i­a­tions monthly. The source of the chal­lenge was at that time the sec­tion was not fully staffed and we are now do­ing monthly rec­on­cil­i­a­tions,” said Mr Ndi­mande.

“The vari­ance rose say, be­tween pay­roll A and pay­roll B, but they did tally. The vari­ance was re­solved. We can pro­duce doc­u­ments to that ef­fect.”

The MPs ex­pressed con­cern over the high num­ber of banks which coun­cil was us­ing which re­sults in de­lays in rec­on­cil­i­a­tion of fig­ures.

Mrs Zhou said coun­cil was bank­ing with 13 dif­fer­ent in­sti­tu­tions as part of its risk management strat­egy as lo­cal banks tend to be un­re­li­able and could close any time.

She said coun­cil had lost money to three banks which were placed un­der cu­ra­tor­ship.

The re­port also showed that there were sig­nif­i­cant un­rec­on­ciled bal­ances of $486 986 and $104 486 for the King­dom Bank gen­eral ex­penses and King­dom Bank ac­count re­spec­tively.

Mr Ndi­mande said the fi­nance de­part­ment had been un­der­staffed hence the de­lays in rec­on­cil­ing state­ments.

Coun­cil also lost about $76 000 through em­bez­zle­ment from an em­ployee who later re­signed and signed an agree­ment to re­pay.

Mrs Zhou told the com­mit­tee that coun­cil claimed $46 000 from the em­ployee which is what the in­ter­nal au­di­tors picked and the mat­ter is be­fore the courts.

Public Ac­counts Com­mit­tee chair­per­son Ms Pau­rina Mpariwa said although the com­mit­tee was yet to make de­lib­er­a­tions, the ev­i­dence pre­sented by the of­fi­cials showed that the coun­cil was faced with a se­ri­ous short­age of key per­son­nel and had loop­holes in its sys­tem. — @Aux­il­iaK.

Mrs Sikhangele Zhou

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