Justice for land audit culprits

The Town Clerk must discipline senior council employees who did not do their job professionally resulting in the shoddy dealings unearthed by the recent council land audit, council legal advisors, Mbidzo Muchadehama and Makoni, said.

The land audit exposed shocking omissions and possible underhand dealings by council employees regarding allocation of council land and collection of revenue from the properties.

Part of the letter of memorandum written to the council by the legal advisors reads: “The Town Clerk must deal with all persons below him who did not do their work. The persons pointed out as not having done their job properly include the Chamber Secretary, Estates Officer, Director of Housing and Town Planner. If the Town Clerk fails to take disciplinary action, then he would have failed to do his job.”

The letter goes on to advise the Town Clerk to explain the things that he failed to tell the Land Audit team.

“The Town Clerk is duty-bound to liaise with the internal audit to plug any loop-holes in the council, including the supervision of the auditor in relation to annual period and spot audits. Apparently, the Town Clerk was not doing what is expected of him in terms of the Urban Councils Act. The onus is on him to clean up the mess in council.”

The damning land audit report exposed a chaotic state of affairs in the council housing department. It showed that there was no proper documentation of the allocation of stands, or receipts for sold property. The housing waiting list was haphazardly compiled and there was evidence that some council land was freely parcelled out to residents against council policy.

Mbidzo Muchadehama and Makoni Law Company advised that in the long term, the council must evolve, or put in place clear policies on allocation of its land. It said there must be a clear policy on multiple ownership of land by individuals in respect to residential, commercial and industrial stands, as well as clear policies on re-possession.

The lawyers advised that in the middle term, there was urgent need for a holistic external audit of not only issues relating to land, but a complete comprehensive audit of Council systems and procedures.

“From the look of things, what has been uncovered by the land audit is just the tip of an iceberg,” the report said.

On Friday last week, the council resolved that the city fathers, through the office of Mayor, would make suggestions to the Town Clerk on ways to heed the legal advice.

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