Mutare City Council has been slammed for violating the Urban Council’s Act after failing to timeously audit its finances having last done so five years ago.A hard-hitting forensic audit investigation report on land management from 2007 to March 2018 revealed that the last audit was for the financial year ending December 31, 2014.
“Financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2015 were still at draft stage and not audited,” the report noted.
It said while this was illegal it also compromised the quality of decisions the local authority’s management and policymakers were making.
Council is likely to continue to be flagged for financial and resource mismanagement, the land audit opined. “This is a violation of section 305 (b) of the Urban Council’s Act Chapter 29:15 which require financial statements to be ready for audit by not later than 120 days after the end of each financial year.
“The council might continue to receive qualified audit reports. Decision-making may become difficult in the absence of credible audited financial statements.”
The audit recommended that the local authority recruit a substantive finance director and his/deputy among “other key posts in the department as to ensure that final accounts are consolidated and made ready for statutory audits timeously.”
Former Mutare mayor Brian James has been calling for independent finance audits by the council for years to no avail. Only in January United Mutare Residents and Ratepayers Trust (UMRRT) lost a High Court suit to demand that council present audited accounts.
The ruling suggested, against statutory law, that once residents pay anything to council the money becomes council’s and residents have no recourse as to what happens to it.
James reacted angrily to the ruling saying it would be “crazy” for residents to continue paying their rates if this is allowed to stand.“…as I see it we are crazy to pay if this is fact,” James said in a WhatsApp thread in response to the High Court ruling. Daily News.