Mutare – The MDC has condemned the suspension of Mutare Mayor, Clr Brian James.
Hon Douglas Mwonzora, the MDC spokesperson said, the suspension was an effort to allow corruption to rear its ugly head in the town. “The suspension of Brian James is illegal and unreasonable. It deprives the people of Mutare of a mayor whose policies were people-centred.
“By suspending Mayor James, Chombo wants to reintroduce corruption and lack of accountability in one of the best run towns in Zimbabwe, this must be resisted,” Hon Mwonzora said Mutare Mayor, Brian James (pictured right) was suspended by Zanu PF Ignatious Chombo after the mayor had raised over 20 irregularities in the financial affairs of the city to the town clerk, Obert Muzawazi.
In a letter dated 10 October 2011, the Mayor wrote to the Town Clerk
highlighting the irregularities of the financial affairs of Mutare City and the need for investigations on these allegations in order to make corrective measures to protect the city and its ratepayers.
The letter reads: “It has come to my attention and that of the councillors that there are a number of serious irregularities taking place in respect of the council’s financial affairs which may possibly be fraudulent and prejudicial to the city of Mutare.”
Following the mayor’s concerns, a council resolution authorising the financial audit to be done was made on 20 December
In his letter, Clr James outlined that financial concerns included: the delays in auditing year end finances, recommending to the procurement board a company that is unknown to Institute of Chartered Accountants of Zimbabwe (ICAZ), insufficient due deligence
work done on tender procedures for the water pipeline duplication project, unauthorised expenditure leading to huge bank overdrafts, continual desire to borrow, lack of creditor’s list and delays
in analysing debtors list.
Other financial concerns included insufficient responsiveness in dealing with public concerns, continual late payment of staff wages and salaries, alleged advancement of managerial salaries before lower grades have been paid, insufficient and misleading information
given to public budget consultative meetings, reluctance to formulate a public budget committee, weak and delayed
Clr James said there is need to investigate a possible default on SIDA loan repayment, reluctance to give details of estate accounts in monthly reports to the finance committee, 2009 audit: non compliance of section 306 and 307 Urban Councils Act regarding audit reports, inaccuracies in creditors list, council’s indebtedness to Pungwe Breweries, council’s crippling financial situation versus management’s continual desire to improve their benefits and council’s inability to obtain employment contracts of managerial staff despite request for such. “We have a serious problem here in
Mutare and the unfortunate part is that we are being led into debt by this management. We said there should be an audit, but it seems like some people are dragging their feet.
“Our Kingdom Bank overdraft has ballooned to over US$1.5 million from
the initial agreement of US$ 600 000 without the Finance Committee’s, full council’s or the Mayor’s knowledge. This is unauthorised expenditure, and council needs to be immediately apprised as to what it has been spent on,” said Clr James.
He said, besides these financial constraints, he was forced to sign the 2012 budget under duress as the Town Clerk had not given the Ministry of Local Government notice of delay of the council’s budget.
The Ministry then summoned the Town Clerk to present the Mutare Ciy Budget and explain the cause of the delays. The councillors suggested that Mayor James attend that meeting.
“Prior to the meeting and following further discussions with fellow councillors they expressed concerns that at this ministry meeting pressure would be brought to bear for the signing off of this draft budget, and they claimed fear of possible suspension should we not comply.
“In the meantime though, council had resolved to engage budgetary consultancy work to assist in the formulation of our 2012 budget.
“Work had already commenced on this at the beginning of November, and the works order, signed by City of Mutare and Worley Parsons clearly stipulated the time frame that this process should follow under the circumstances as at November 2011,” he said.
He said the Town Clerk however, failed to notify the Ministry of the intended delay.
“The budget that has been submitted to the Ministry is flawed in a number of ways. Of greatest concern is the issue of employment cost estimates. – Source:The Changing Times