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Donation scandal hits Bulawayo city council

by Staff reporter
18 Sep 2022 at 16:52hrs | Views
THE Bulawayo City Council's Health Services Department has been operating its own bank account, where the department would deposit donated money and then spend it outside the city's financial system, an audit has  revealed.

The internal audit which unravelled a number of irregularities was meant to determine if monitoring of and accounting for donations was done in accordance with the city's policies and procedures.

Overally, the audit laid bare the laxity of accountability at the local authority's departments with regards to complying with policies and procedures on the handling of donated assets thereby exposing such assets to risk of misappropriation and misstatement of revenue.

"The Health Services Department has its own bank account which was opened and maintained without the knowledge of the city's financial services department, funds are deposited into the account and spent by the department outside the city's financial  systems.

"Registers for donations received are not maintained by both the beneficiary departments and the Financial Services Department and there is lack of co-ordination between the former and the latter leading to donations not being fully accounted for in the city's accounting system," reads the report.

According to council policy, city departments who are recipients of donated items, be it cash or kind, are expected to inform the finance director to enable proper and complete                                                      accounting.

The audit further revealed that the local authority could not account for 6 665 litres of fuel that were donated to the Health Services Department for Covid-19 by Cordaid, with the department revealing that their vehicles were fuelled at the fuelling point of the donor. The Housing and Community Services reportedly also failed to report the donation of Information Communication Technology (ICT) equipment to its schools.

"Financial service personnel informed audit that they have a challenge in accounting for all donations because some beneficiary departments do not inform them about received donations. They specifically cited the Health and Engineering Services Departments, the former in respect of Results Based Financing programmes and the latter in respect of water storage tanks and tablet computers.

They informed us that sometimes they only get to know of some donations when beneficiary departmental staff have challenges with the donated items such as when city funds have to be expended in connection with the donated assets.

"Some Covid-19 donations were not supported by any documentation like delivery notes or accompanying letter. These were recorded in the donation lists but there was no record signed by both parties to acknowledge receipt of donated items.

The donations list also did not have details on how the items received were dispatched except where beneficiaries were specified by the donor. Such improperly handled donations are open to abuse as they may not reach the intended beneficiaries or used for intended purposes.

However, this was brought to the attention of the staff concerned and remedial action was taken at the time of the audit," reads the  report.

The audit also stated that the local authority was failing to dispose of expired drugs leading to the congestion of council  storerooms.

"Some drugs are received a few months closer to the expiry date. As a result they reach their expiry date before they are used. These are written off from the stock card, entered in the expired register and removed from the stores and kept in separate stores awaiting disposal.

"We found that expired drugs have not been disposed for a long time hence storerooms are now congested and some stock is now kept in the corridors.

According to the Health Services Department, the disposal process is initiated by a registered pharmacist and at the moment the city does not have one. Efforts to fill in the post were fruitless," reads the audit.

However, the audit discovered that the local authority has complete documentation and accounting for all Government support programmes, inclusive of various grants, staff incentives and fuel received to cover Covid-19 management  logistics.

Source - The Sunday News