Zimbabwe’s Local Governments Fail to Deliver Services, Auditor-General Reports

The report reveals widespread financial mismanagement and poor governance in the country's local authorities

by Victor Adetimilehin

Zimbabwe’s local governments are facing a crisis of service delivery, as the Auditor-General’s report for the financial year ended December 31, 2022, exposes rampant corruption, inefficiency, and incompetence in the sector.


Rampant Corruption and Inefficiency Plague Zimbabwe’s Local Governments


The Auditor-General’s report for the financial year ended December 31, 2022, has revealed that Zimbabwe’s local governments are plagued by rampant corruption, inefficiency, and incompetence. 


The report, which was analyzed by the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (Zimcodd), a civil society organization, found that most of the local authorities had modified audit opinions (25% qualified and 67% adverse) for the audited years (2018-2022), which were mainly due to non-compliance with international public sector accounting standards and international financial reporting standards.


Based on a report by Newsday Zimbabwe, it also highlighted several issues concerning financial mismanagement, non-compliance with laws and regulations, untaxed benefits, lack of adequate controls over contract management and stand sales, and poor service delivery. 


Governance issues dominated audit findings as they increased from 91 issues in 2021 to 139 in 2022. Governance issues have remained high in all reports submitted over the last five years, indicating a lack of accountability, transparency, and oversight in the local government sector.


Implications of Audit Findings on Service Delivery and Social Rights


The performance audit reports assure service delivery as they responded directly to the Bill of Rights and social rights of citizens such as access to affordable and quality healthcare, housing, clean and safe water, education, transportation, and social security. 


However, the report findings showed that local governments were partly to blame for poor service delivery, as they failed to follow key policies, laws, and regulations, and had weak internal controls and financial reporting systems.


Recommendations and Way Forward


Zimcodd commended the Auditor-General’s Office for its effective fiscal transparency and urged it to be afforded maximum statutory independence, unlimited access to relevant information, and adequate resources to fulfil audit functions and publicly report on the use of taxpayers’ money. 


Zimcodd also called for the implementation of the audit recommendations by the local authorities and the central government, and the enforcement of sanctions for non-compliance and maladministration. 


Zimcodd further advocated for the strengthening of citizen participation and oversight in local governance and budget processes, and the promotion of social accountability and fiscal justice in the local government sector.

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