By Colin Nyangani
The Law of Diminishing Intent says, “The longer you wait to do something you should do now, the greater the odds that you will never actually do it.”
Since Auditor Generals Office published numerous reports about the unethical and pseudo conduct by the City Father’s, management and employees it is disheartening to note that culprits of scandals, gross mismanagement and corruption are walking scot-free at the behest of the victim resident. I am oblidged to echo the voice of the marginalized resident
There are signs of gross financial mismanagement, corruption and non adherence to Policies and procedures the Harare City Council.
We live in an age disturbed, confused, bewildered, afraid of its own forces, in search not merely of its road but even of its direction. There are many voices of counsel, but few voices of vision; there is much excitement and feverish activity, but little concert of thoughtful purpose. We are distressed by our ungoverned, undirected energies and do many things, but nothing long. It is our duty to find ourselves.
I wish to cite and make reference to my own recent validated experiences.
I have no doubt that the Harare City Council is haunted by lack of credible and up to date databases which lead to incomplete and inaccurate billing of rates and other municipal service and non-service charges and rentals.
It is common knowledge that there was deliberate attempt by all concerned to workoutside the BIQ (Enterprise Resource Planning Software system modules) due to various financial scandals in the IT and Treasury departments.
We saw Cash Barrons in the form of Harare City Council employees taking moneys (RTGS & US$) from Residents and using their personal or colleagues electronic bank cards to swipe and then they take the same money and sell on the black market.
It is also alarming and discomforting that the water purified and pumped from Morton Jaffray Water Treatment Plant, the volume of water billed constitutes only about 40 percent of the treated total billed at Rowan Martin Building’s computer centre. What a waste of resources given that it takes about nine different treatment chemicals and mostly expensive chemicals to treat the water given the pollution at Lake Chivero, Prince Edward and Lake Harava Dams.
The water lost could only be attributable to the following:
(1) Water lost in transmission from the treatment plant and distribution reticulation system through pipe bursts and leaks;
(2) Illegal and, therefore, unrecorded water connections;
(3) Under-assessments or underestimation of water consumption and usage, mainly as a
result of malfunctioning or faulty, old and unreliable water meters; and
(4) To a very limited extent, evaporation of water from reservoirs, particularly in the relatively hot season periods.
Gravely concerned that the procurement of both goods and services is done corruptly or while ignoring tender and/or other
laid down procedures as was the case of the highlighted in the Auditor- General’s reports.
The award of tenders at Harare City Council to unqualified or less qualified contractors leading
to poor workmanship is one clear sign of corruption in Harare City Council and this continues to undermine the sustainability of infrastructure services such as water supply,
sanitation, drainage, access roads and paving, transport, solid waste management, street lighting and community halls.
Sadly, when residents perceive that the money that they are paying to the Harare City Council is being abused and or mismanaged they resist paying the rates as is the case.
I am amazed by how many Harare City Council employees I meet every day who don’t like doing what they do for a living. Why do they do it? I understand the necessity of having to make a living. We’ve all done jobs we didn’t love and I have observed with keen interest that Harare City Council projections on employment ratios were unrealistic that 48 per cent mark from 2014 of the anticipated revenue would go towards employment costs while the remaining 52 per cent would fund service delivery programmes and other projects (Budget Speech, 2014) which in the main has never been achieved till now.
The projected employment costs to recurrent expenditure ratio of 48:52, although rubber stamped by most key stakeholders and Public Administration Analysts as a step in the right direction, fell short of the 30:70 ratio stipulated by the Local Government Circular No 4 of 2013, item number 4 which requires that the budget of any local authority be developed in a manner that clearly depicts a skew in favour of service delivery by adhering to the 30:70, employment costs to recurrent expenditure ratio.
Philosopher Abraham Kaplan noted, “If, as Socrates said, the unexamined life is not worth living, so the unlived life is worth examining.” If you’re not enjoying what you do for a living, you need to take some time to examine why.
I am very disturbed by the lack of supervisory consistency and persistence of these tabulated directives that seeks to increase council spending in service delivery activities.
A decline in the quality of local governance could be a symptom of a decay or absence of administrative ethics.
For instance, when a local authority upholds the standards of administrative morality such as honesty, responsiveness, efficiency,
effectiveness, transparency and accountability, the costs of moral or ethical decay in the form of corruption could be minimised greatly which is a clear sign of good governance.
As a responsible, responsive and accountable leader believes effective public sector corporate governance results from an integrated and holistic adherence to six main principles namely: leadership, integrity, commitment, accountability, integration and transparency.
In my conclusion; I quote Section 9 (1) a and (b) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides that the State must adopt and implement policies and legislation to develop efficiency, competence, accountability, transparency, personal integrity and financial probity in all institutions and agencies of government at every level and in every public institution.
And in particular
Appointment of public offices must be made primarily on the basis of merit.
Measures must be taken to expose, combat.
Eradicate all forms of corruption and abuse of power by those holding political and public offices.
Sadly, cases of corruption and abuse of municipal finances and assets are on the increase.
This points to the existence of gaps that need to be filled from a corporate governance perspective in relation to the practice of corporate governance in the public sector.
You cannot win if you do not begin! The people who get ahead in the world are the ones who look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, they make them.
Whilst acknowledging the role of Harare City Council, in these challenging times and situations,
I stand guided by the Urban Councils Act (CAP 29:15) and the Constitution of Zimbabwe; I strongly believe in Social Responsibility Accounting as Legitimacy and Authority.
Social Responsibility Accounting without Authority is meaningless, so the Social Responsibility Accounting is always authority.
“One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes. In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves.”
The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.”
I rest my pen!
Authored by: Colin S. Nyangani (SirColin)
Community Development Consultant
@ SirColin Personal Mastery