Home » General » Tender Board Stops Council Audit

GRANT Thornton Camelsa has been stopped from auditing Harare City Council’s books by the State Procurement Board after it emerged that its engagement could jeopardise the outcome and that the firm was taking too long to produce a report. Many had questioned the logic behind the city authorities engaging the chartered accountants who are the city’s traditional auditors, as that was akin to having the firm auditing itself.

Council officials were accused of attempting to hide corruption and mismanagement by failing to engage an independent firm to sift through its books.

The appointment of Camelsa followed revelations that most city deals, especially joint venture agreements, were riddled with corruption, while the city officials were being accused of mismanagement and taking home huge salaries at the expense of service delivery.

The SPB questioned the criteria used by the city to appoint the auditing firm after noting that the task it was to undertake required a company without prior links to the council.

Harare City Council audit committee chairperson Mr Panganayi Charumbira yesterday confirmed that Camelsa was no longer auditing the city’s books.

“The State Procurement Board questioned the chamber secretary (Mrs Josephine Ncube) on the grounds used to select the firm considering that they are the city’s traditional auditors.

“The chamber secretary has written back to SPB and we are now waiting for them to give us a nod to restart the exercise.”

Mr Charumbira said councillors feared that if there were any irregularities noted by Camelsa, the evidence would be swept under the carpet since it was taking too long for the audit to be conducted.”

These revelations are in contradiction with what Harare mayor Mr Bernard Manyenyeni said last month when he indicated that the audit was proceeding at a slower rate than expected.

Mr Manyenyeni said yesterday that the SPB wanted to review Camelsa’s appointment and approve forensic fees.

“I am not sure what they had done so far or until they had to stop, because of the sensitivity and the intended speed of execution, we cannot say much, he said.

“We expect the Comptroller and Auditor General to remove the red tape to allow the process to continue. The residents of Harare are waiting for answers. We all have the duty to meet that expectation.”

Councillors have in the past defended their decision to appoint Camelsa, saying they still believed in the firm’s independence and that going to tender would delay the audit.

The auditors are to audit city executives’ salaries and benefits as well as sales of commercial and residential stands to managers.

The investigations follow reports that the city’s 18 directors were gobbling over $500 000 in salaries monthly even as service delivery deteriorated.

There were also allegations that directors bought industrial and commercial stands, whose official prices ranged from $20 to $30 per square metre, for as little as $3 per square metre.

In addition, council could have lost up to $100 million through inflating prices of equipment in a $144,4 million loan agreement with a Chinese firm for refurbishment of water infrastructure.

The forensic audit was to cover the period form 2009 to 2014, also investigating fuel allocation and consumption and procurement at Harare Water, repairs and servicing of refuse removal trucks, vehicle parts cannibalism at the municipal automotive workshop and hire of plant and equipment for the department of engineering services.

Source : The Herald