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Mildred Chiri


Land-for-debt deals rile Auditor-General



SETTLEMENT of debt and buying of service vehicles by local authorities using vast tracts of land has riled Auditor-General Mildred Chiri (pictured) who in her latest report described the practice as inconsistent with the expectations of available legislation and processes.


In her report on local authorities, Chiri said most councils were entering in deals that have seen them losing huge tracts of land.

“During the year under review, the Municipality was financing recurrent expenditure through swaps with stands,” Chiri noted on Marondera Municipality.

“The Municipality was not using Estate funds as specified by the Urban Councils Act [Chapter 29:15], section 300. I observed that Storey Marketing Hardware, a company that supplies protective clothing wrote a letter to the Municipality requesting the amounts owed to the hardware to be paid by allocation of stands and the Municipality agreed.

“The value of the transaction was ZW$537 113 and a low-density residential stand number 3929 measuring 1 300m2 was allocated.”

She said Redcliff Municipality also entered into an agreement with Livetouch Investments (Private) Limited for the sale of land valued at US$847 962 in exchange for vehicles.

“Livetouch Investments (Private) Limited was not in the business of supplying vehicles but in the business of Chrome processing. The vehicles involved in the transaction were four (4) Toyota Hilux, one (1) Toyota Fortuner, one (1) Backhoe loader, five (5) Nissan NP300 trucks, one (1) Grader, one (1) Skip bin loader, Toyota 18-seater bus, one (1) Toyota Quantum Ambulance and a Fire tender.”

In substance, Chiri said in her report, the Municipality sold land and used the funds to purchase condition-of-service vehicles and service delivery vehicles.

By so doing, Chiri said, the local authority flouted tender and procurement of service vehicles that requires the involvement of the line ministry, in this case Local Government.

“The equipment was full consideration in exchange for 21 hectares of land by council to Livetouch investments. I noted that the agreement with Livetouch was entered into without going to tender, contrary to the provisions of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Act [Chapter 22:23]. Section 2.2 to 2.4.2 of the agreement provided that Livetouch would deliver the equipment and vehicles,” Chiri said.

Indications are that the vehicles including a Faw Underpan truck, fire tender, Faw Underpan motor vehicle, among others, were not delivered.

“A letter dated 20 March 2018 on conditions of service vehicles for executive management of independent Commissions, State Enterprises and Parastatals (SEPs) states that applications to purchase conditions of service vehicles for staff members should be done through their line Ministry for onward scrutiny by the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) and approval by Treasury prior to the confirmation of any purchase order,” Chiri said.

“I was not availed with documentation pertaining to these approvals on the purchase of the above-mentioned conditions of service vehicles.

The local authority also paid Classic Mobile on 31 August 2021 using stands with an offer letter dated 26 October 2020 valued at US$13 348 for the mobile phones the municipality had acquired.

“No repayments had been made by November 30, 2021 to Estates Fund for the noted transactions. In 2015, the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works through a letter dated September 21, 2015 warned the Municipality to desist from utilising land for recurrent expenditure.”

Chiri said the council had tried through a 2022 resolution to rectify the problem.

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