'Harare's ICT system not coordinated'

HARARE - An audit into the Harare City Council information technology at its district offices revealed that most computers at these centres are not linked to council’s main server.

According to audit committee minutes, findings from the investigations also showed that district offices do not have access to the BIQ’s generated standard reports.

The findings from the audit come as another audit revealed that the city’s point of sale machines did not tally with those registered at the banks.

“The audit manager led the committee through his report and the findings were that some district office computers were not on the council domain and that generally there was no user training on municipal information communication technology (ICT) systems,” read part of the minutes.

The minutes also noted that users at district offices shared accounts in the district offices, making it difficult for one person to be made accountable for any errors that may occur.

Audit committee minutes also emphasised that ICT equipment at district offices was not properly secured, making it prone to theft and vandalism.

Councillors in the committee resolved that the housing director must grant relevant district office personnel access to standard BIQ reports.

“That the acting human capital director must regularly inform the ICT manager about staff movements so that ICT user accounts are dealt with accordingly,” the minutes said.

In 2016, Harare embarked on a decentralisation exercise that would see most district offices connected to Rowan Martin. However, payments made through transfers and mobile money are not immediately reconciled to a ratepayers account, leaving room for manipulation.

Harare, which was the first to introduce the BIQ billing system in the country, has however lagged behind Bulawayo, which it taught the system.

The city now attends workshops on how best to operate the system from Bulawayo who have more than 90 percent efficiency rate on BIQ, compared to Harare which has less than 60 percent.

Residents associations have for years been complaining about the BIQ system arguing that the city’s approach to its implementation stinks of corruption.

Combined Harare Residents Association chairperson Simbarashe Moyo argued that unwillingness by council to fix the billing system made residents speculate that management was benefitting from the chaos.

In a 2015 report by Auditor General Mildred Chiri, she found out that the city’s BIQ system was not fully developed which opened it up for fraud and mismanagement.

“My review and enquiries revealed that some modules in BIQ were not fully developed. Furthermore, the modules that were developed were not being fully utilised.
Information which was not in BIQ system was being maintained on excel spreadsheets.

“Recommendations are that council should ensure that all the modules in BIQ are fully developed and put to use,” Chiri said.