21 April 2013

Zimbabwe: Suspended Mutare Mayor At Loggerheads With City Manager

Mutare — Suspended Mutare mayor, Brian James  is at loggerheads with the city's town clerk, Obert Muzawazi over allegations that he is blocking the local authority from accessing loans from banks.

Muzawazi recently told Zanu PF secretary for administration, Didymus Mutasa that the city had not been paying workers for four months now, as James was allegedly influencing banks to stop giving council overdraft facilities.

Mutasa is the patron of the Manicaland Business Action Group (MBAG), set up recently to find ways of resuscitating distressed companies in the province.

But James last week described the accusations as "unfortunate". He said residents and ratepayers of Mutare had the right to know why the council's financial system was paralysed.

James blamed council's current management for problems facing the city.

"At the same time, the council refuses to engage independent consultants to fully analyse the debtor account and so determine its origins and the true level of recoverability," he said.

"Council's reluctance to implement independent audits to their yearly financials only endangers a growing lack of confidence in council's financial capabilities and its ability to repay its ever-growing loans."

James said council should overhaul its accounting practices in order to solve the serious cash flow problems.

He said council had failed to provide a meaningful cash flow projection, hence banks and other lending institutions were not prepared to take a risk by lending the municipality.

James called for the investigation of council's budget processes and an appraisal of the council's revenue capabilities.

"Council should engage independent consultants in coming up with a budget. It should re-open cordial and meaningful dialogue with the city's ratepayers associations, because right now the council requires support from these associations," he said.

James was suspended by Local Government minister, Ignatius Chombo last year over allegations of gross mismanagement.

But the mayor believes his suspension was a well-orchestrated move by councillors and senior managers to block the auditing of council finances and illegal land sales.

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