Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter
At least 70 local authorities did not submit financial statements for the Auditor-General’s 2018 audit, with only three having records audited for the year.
This was revealed by Auditor-General Mildred Chiri in her annual report on the performance of local authorities for the year 2018, that was tabled in Parliament last week.
“I note with concern that for the 2018 financial year, out of 92 local authorities, only three (Bindura Municipality, Tongogara Rural District Council and Marondera Rural District Council) had current  financial statements audited and reported on, whilst 19 were in progress or at finalisation stage,” she said.
“Seventy local authorities had not submitted their financial statements for audit as at May 31, 2019.”
Some of the local authorities have not submitted financial statements since 2016, with Kusile Rural District Council (Lupane) failing to present its statements since 2014.
Mrs Chiri said the failure to submit the statements had made it difficult for her office to follow up on issues raised in previous reports.
“I, therefore, found it difficult to review and assess whether or not my prior recommendations including outstanding issues had been regularised,” she said.
Mrs Chiri noted that lack of good governance continued to dog most councils, with Chitungwiza Municipality, Karoi Town Council and Bubi Rural District Council operating without key policy and procedure manuals.
“Non-payment of statutory obligations continues to be an issue in my reports,” she said. “Notable cases were Kariba Municipality ($5 309 208), Redcliff Municipality ($2 916 365) and Karoi Town Council ($1 936 329).
“Gweru City Council could not reconcile rates and water accounts amounts of $12 738 875 and $7 312 445 to bank statements balances of $303 942 and $70 582 respectively. Its employees have accumulated excess leave days which effectively imply that some of them have not been on leave for at least 17 years and others 24 years.
“Gweru was also unable to provide layout plans for the stands sold during the year.”
Mrs Chiri castigated Harare City Council for wasting money after hiring equipment for $222 950 when it could have repaired its own for $159 969.
“The council also borrowed an aggregate of $32 500 000 to fund salaries and terminal benefits of employees without ministerial approval,” she said.
“Only six out of the 32 required ambulances were available. There were no documented procedures in place to handle some operational and veterinary issues, for instance the case where council recorded cattle deaths averaging 36 per month (433 for the year under review).”
Mrs Chiri said 67 percent of Mutare City Council treated water was not billed due to leakages, non-metered connections and accounts not created in the system.
The local authority had 5 872 non-functional water meters.