BULAWAYO City Council workers tasked with disconnecting water supplies on defaulters have been accused of soliciting for bribes from residents to skip their premises, but council has quashed the allegations saying there is no conclusive evidence.
The disconnection team is under the consumers’ section in the financial services department and operates under the direct supervision of the credit controller.
According to the latest confidential council report of the audit committee meeting of May 27, a verbal report was made on February 17 alerting the local authority of the bribery claims.
However, council said the was no conclusive evidence that its disconnection teams solicited for bribes.
“The matter arose when a concerned resident in Makokoba suburb noticed that the cut-off team had not disconnected properties near his place of residence,” part of the report reads.
“He alleged that members of the cut-off team did not disconnect water supplies for some defaulters; instead they had solicited and received bribes from the affected consumers.”
An investigation was conducted and the council concluded that in the absence of “creditable evidence, the allegations raised against the cut-off team could not be sustained”.
According to the report, council had earmarked to cut off water supplies on 479 properties on February 17 of which 143 properties were not disconnected for various reasons which included failure by the team to locate the properties.
The audit team interviewed the occupants of stand 2059 in Makoboba and the cut off team.
“Audit interviewed consumers on stand 2059 Makokoba. They acknowledged having seen the cut-off team and being issued with a disconnection letter. However, they denied bribing members of the cut-off team.
“Audit held interviews with the cut off team on 26 February 2014, but no conclusive information on soliciting for bribes were ascertained,” part of the report reads.
Council then recommended that “random verification should be done by the supervisor/security personnel on a regular basis on disconnected properties in order to deter unethical behaviour by members of the cut-off team”.