THE Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing has sent an audit team to probe Mutare City Council’s payroll, amid reports of ghost workers and allegations that managers were receiving salaries on time, yet the local authority is struggling to pay low grade workers their wages since 2013.
The team which began work on December 7 and finished on December 18 also investigated the council’s medical aid scheme, which was believed to have lost thousands of dollars through dubious transactions.
Mutare Mayor, Councillor Tatenda Nhamarare, said the team did its work and council awaits its findings.
“This follows several complaints and rumours about ghost workers at the Civic Centre as well as concerns by some sections of our workforce that managers were up to date with their salaries, yet low grade workers were not being paid anything for years. There were also complaints about the operation of our medical aid scheme which some councillors believed was being abused and siphoned of thousands of dollars,” he said.
Town Clerk Mr Obert Muzawazi said council would be guided by recommendations of the team when findings are out.
“They did their work and I am glad that they received support from our various departments. We now wait for the results which will guide us on how to proceed,” he said.
Sources close to the probe said the team did a headcount of all workers at various stations to fish out ghost employees.
Council is struggling to pay its workforce owing to financial bottlenecks that are being caused by defaulting ratepayers and a litany of reasons that are stifling income generation.
The local authority is yet to pay some of its workers their 2013 salaries, a situation that has led many to think that money is being siphoned.
The ensuing situation has at times resulted in the local authority paying workers through a salary advancement application system, which many believe is being abused to benefit a few.
Currently, the local authority is in a legal battle with ratepayers who are dragging their feet to clear arrears that have since ballooned to $30 million.
Despite receiving demand letters from the municipality’s debt collectors, Mangwana and Partners, households and businesses are struggling to pay up.
Finance director Mr Lloyd Musasa has since said debt collectors would attach defaulters’ property.