THE lack of independence in the Gweru City Council’s internal audit department is contributing to loss of revenue, affecting good corporate governance at the local authority, a service delivery probe team has revealed.
According to a report by the probe team, made up mostly of councillors, the department “looked ceremonial” and was failing to detect wrong decisions made by
council officials, leading to ineffective operations at the municipality.
“At Gweru City Council, this section (internal audit) looks ceremonial as it lacks the requisite independence,” the report read.
“The set up allows a lot of wrongs to go undetected because of its ceremonial status. It is imperative that the audit must be proactive rather than reactive if
it is to address deficiencies in the organisation.”
The report noted that it took the audit department 18 months to detect anomalies in the purchase of the machinery, used in the digging of trenches and loading
of garbage, among other functions, with investigations in the matter still to be concluded.
The probe team highlighted that the machinery was not new when it was delivered and only operated for two weeks from the day it was delivered before it broke
“Without this machine, council has had to hire from private suppliers who charge an average of US$150 per hour,” the report noted.
It added that in addition to the procurement of secondhand valves, the audit section picked that in other instances, the number of registered market stalls was
lower than what was actually on the ground.
Added the probe team: “The committee (service delivery probe team) also observed fear in the audit section to undertake major investigations. This is
attributable to lack of independence, (in particular) the refusal by the chief internal auditor to abide to a council resolution which appointed him (chief
internal auditor) to be part of the committee of inquiry.”
The team recommended that the audit reporting structure be reviewed in line with the Corporate Governance Act and that the chief internal auditor should report
functionally to the chairperson of the audit committee and administratively to the town clerk to ensure the department is proactive rather than reactive.