By Mthulisi Mathuthu
SW Radio Africa
18 March 2014
Chitungwiza Town Council workers this week claimed that senior managers were milking the council dry by siphoning funds from secret bank accounts, from which they paid themselves high salaries.
The workers union told the parliamentary portfolio committee on public service that they had unearthed a suspected scam in which 18 managers withdrew $235,000 a month from a secret account. Reports said the workers fingered town planner Conrad Muchesa and finance director Evangelista Machona, as chief culprits in the scam in which each manager is said to have pocketed between $12,000 and $33,000 per month.
According to the union, while the managers’ pay slips showed that they were not being paid just like everyone else, they were in fact running a secret payroll.
Workers union chairman Ephraim Katsina reportedly produced management pay slips and bank statements and other official documents to support the claims.
Among other details, the documents showed that Town Clerk George Makunde was in January 2013 paid $10,000 from an identified secret bank account when officially he earns no more than $5,000. Katsina said in March the same year Makunde secretly received a further payment of $6,000.
Katsina and his colleagues also revealed that between January 2013 and February 2014 the municipality collected $14.5 million as revenue and out of that amount $10 million was not accounted for. Parliament also heard that the local authority in January this year asked government for $ 1.7 million for workers’ salaries. But according to the workers union the figure was inflated with the management having added 10 ‘ghost managers’ to the list.
Chitungwiza Residents Trust programmes coordinator Marvelous Khumalo congratulated the workers for exposing the corruption. He said: ‘For far too long we have been knocking on the council door asking them to account and to improve service delivery but all along they have ignored us. Now we know why they were so uncooperative and we say thank you to the workers union.’
Khumalo said service delivery has ‘virtually collapsed’ in the dormitory town with ‘persistent and unexplained’ water cuts being the order of the day. Khumalo said as a result the trust was consulting lawyers with the intention of suing the local authority for continuing to bill the residents for non-existent services.
Allegations of corruption and poor service delivery against the Chitungwiza municipality have been going on for a long time. Last year former Town Clerk Godfrey Tanyanyiwa was jailed after he was found to have fleeced the council of $80,000.
The latest allegations come at a time when several local authorities and parastatals are struggling to shrug off bad images arising from reports of ‘corrupt salaries’ awarded to senior managers.