HCC unearths massive water connections scam

HARARE - Harare councillors have unearthed massive water management fraud involving senior engineers.

The scam prejudiced Harare City Council (HCC) of at least $170 000, according to minutes from the local authority’s audit committee.

Peter Manjoro, a councillor, exposed the fraudulent activities to a full council meeting this week, highlighting how a council engineer, he did not name, illegally disconnected water from one suburb to furnish another for a fee.

“A senior engineer would ensure that one suburb got water while another was prejudiced.

“Some people will tell you that they will never be rationed because they have a senior connection in council who can ensure that they get water every day,” he said.

Manjoro said the scam sabotaged HCC’s revenue collection efforts.

“Though we may want to save money, our employees have found other ways of diverting the sources of funds to suit them,” he said, adding that fair distribution of water had been affected by nepotism in the department.

HCC’s audit committee chairperson Enock Mupamawonde said investigations revealed that some senior engineers would illegally connect water and get paid by residents.

He told the chamber how one engineer would personally ensure that a block of flats had uninterrupted water supply, while he would collect the residents’ bill payments every month.

“Instead of the actual bulk charges being remitted to council, he would get a share of the money. While the meter may charge $20 only $1 would go to council.

“What is, however, most disturbing about the issue is that no one was reprimanded for the crime despite overwhelming evidence against the employee,” Mupamawonde said.

He said the fraud was not only in water department, but also in the distribution of fuel to various departments.

Samuel Chinyowa, also a councillor, said HCC was a toothless bulldog as it was failing to take adequate action on those found guilty of crimes.

“If we do not take disciplinary action against all these people, they will continue to steal even more from council.

“Instead of ensuring that the city’s cash-cows are well taken care of, they are being plundered while we look,” he said.

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