Former Harare town clerk Tendai Mahachi and six other senior council workers allegedly siphoned more than $1 million through dubious allowances and perks, a government instituted audit has revealed.
BY XOLISANI NCUBE
The audit, done by the ministry of Local government, alleged Mahachi, suspended acting town clerk Josephine Ncube and other top directors, allocated themselves hefty salaries and allowances without council approval and in some cases looted public funds.
“In an unorthodox way, the July 2015 pay sheet reflected that council paid gross earnings to former town clerk Mr T Mahachi and six other top executive managers a total of $1 497 040 instead of paying less than $63 000, hence, prejudicing the council more than $1 434 040” reads part of the report that has now caused the suspension of Ncube by Bernard Manyenyeni.
“The council executive managers were paid unbudgeted exorbitant school allowances amounting to $556 330 outside the employment cost in July. The amounts as per invoices were paid directly into their personal bank accounts using the real-time gross settlement system [RTGS]. In unclear motive, the human capital director, Cainos Chimombe, later posted inflated school fees amounts of $882 443 in July pay sheet to the benefitting executive manager which resulted in an overpayment of $357 629,96.”
According to the report, Mahachi and three other senior directors allegedly siphoned $282 000 from council without explanation.
The audit states that $282 000 was transferred via RTGS by the finance controller Tendai Kwenda to Mahachi and three other executive members’ personal bank accounts for unknown reasons.
“The intended purpose or use of this money was not documented nor explained to audit by the finance controller as at date of audit as there was no audit trail,” part of the report read.
“The council was in five [by the time of audit] months’ salary arrears for the general staff [December to April 2016] while executive salaries were only two months in arreas, that is March 2016 and April 2016.”
Manyenyeni confirmed the suspension of Ncube, saying as councillors, they had a duty to protect the people and he could not stand aside and watch public resources being plundered without action.
“Our duty is to do what is right. We just have to fix this council — we have a divine calling to do so,” Manyenyeni said.
The report, which was discussed during last week’s full council meeting, showed that the top management at Town House had devised a way to allegedly fleece the local authority through hefty salaries and unapproved allowances.
The report went on to show that in July 2015, five executive managers were paid unbudgeted for on-call allowances amounting to $173 880 for the period January 2014 to June 2015. There was no council resolution produced to audit that authorised the payment of this allowance to executive managers except for the council’s medical doctors, medical laboratory scientists and medical laboratory technicians,” the report says.
Among the senior managers implicated are Ncube, city health boss Prosper Chonzi, former water director Christopher Zvobgo, works director Philip Pfukwa and human capital director, Cainos Chingombe.
According to the report, the directors were also paid holiday allowances without proof that they went to the said holidays and despite that the local authority had been failing to meet its obligations of service delivery.
Residents have raised concerns about lack of transparency in the management of city coffers, with some demanding that the entire management leave town house.