AT least eight Harare City Council officials are under probe from the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) over failure to account for over US$200m that disappeared under unclear circumstances due to a suspicious billing system, Business Times has learnt.
The latest probe confirms suspicion of manipulation of processes within the local authority that has seen individuals pocketing millions of dollars capitalising on porous systems.
Eight officials including the city’s head of Information Technology (IT) are now subjected to a probe by the anti-graft body for alleged criminal abuse of office amid fears billions of dollars could have been lost to the cartels within the department.
The new ZACC spokesperson Commissioner Thandiwe Mlobane was not immediately available for comment but the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee’s subcommittee on Local Authority chairman Dexter Nduna confirmed this week that the matter was now being handled by the anti-graft grouping.
Nduna’s committee has been pushing the council to produce documentation and explain how the city lost over US$200m following a suspicious cancellation of a contract it had with a South African accounting firm, Quill Associates that supplied it with an accounting software.
“The matter has been reported to ZACC RRB 003367 for eight officials led by Samson Madzokere for criminal abuse of office,” Nduna said.
The committee raised suspicions that individuals and cartels within Harare City Council were manipulating tender processes for their own enrichment.
According to Parliament, Harare City Council officials have not cooperated on earlier instructions to produce a reconstruction of the records of 2019 to try and find the missing US$200m that was red flagged by the Auditor General’s report.
The city officials were brought to Parliament over three times but failed to address the concerns raised by the committee.
Harare Mayor Jacob Mafume said the local authority was following the Auditor General’s recommendations on the matter.
We are going to follow the Auditor General’s recommendations and look at the prevailing loans and see how we can engage BIQ to look for that money and also as bridging ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) to plague further hemorrhage so we are in agreement with what the committee wants us to do,” he told Business Times on Tuesday.
Council officials are said to have coerced companies to put their tenders and make them finance trips to different countries including China, Australia and South Africa upon requesting the companies to pay for their allowances, airfares and accommodation.
The officials, it emerged, would then trail the companies that failed to pay for their demands with the committee now alleging the disappeared US$200m by Harare City Council officials was a tip of the iceberg.
The lack of a billing system in Harare has exposed the local authority to individuals who would in turn pocket money for their own use by collecting revenue without capturing it into their systems.