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Gold mine billing saga: Two council officials suspended

THE Mudzi Rural District Council (MRDC) has suspended two senior officials after an internal audit unearthed under-billing of several mines and the missing of some in the council database with the local authority losing millions of dollars in potential revenue.

According to an internal audit report dated March 12, conducted by one T Hondoyachepa, more than 30 gold mines were missing in the council’s database despite claims by owners that they were paying bills to council.

The suspended council officials are environmental officer Tendai Musandiriri and finance department head Royal Roundi.

In a letter dated April 5 this year addressed to Mudzi district development co-ordinator and signed by council chief executive Victor Nyamutswa, council has since filed a police report at Nyamapanda Police Station against the duo.

“Council sat on March 27 and at this ordinary meeting, the audit report was adopted. In the same meeting, the human resources committee was tasked to sit as a matter of urgency to consider the audit findings and take appropriate action,” the letter read.

“The human resources and administration committee then sat on April 3 as per instruction and resolved that Tendai Musandiriri, an environmental officer who failed to account for all the mining businesses in the district be suspended pending further investigations and also Royal Roundi be suspended pending further investigations.”

The audit also unearthed a scandal in which some of the mines were under-billed while others were never billed.

“The internal audit observed that 25 miners that are registered with the Mines ministry were not in the council database of miners.

“The miners were never billed and council lost revenue amounting to US$268 275 for the period January 2022 to December 2023.

“Finance department did not bill 31 registered miners in the database whose bills total US$385 000 for the period January 2022 to December 2023.”

The report also added that the finance department did not bill land levy totalling US$268 787,50 for the period January 1, 2022 to December last year for mines which were not operational.

“Finance department under-billed 18 registered miners in the database and the under-billing totals US$328 050 for the period January 2022 to December 2023,” the report read.

According to the report, about 31 gold mines in the district are operating without environmental impact assessment (EIA) reports.

“The environment officer in a letter dated March 18, 2021 cleared the Mining Siting of Works for Green Holsters (Private) Limited to the Mining Commissioner.

“The cleared company had not done and paid for entry point, public consultation and EIA production fees. Green Holster (Private) Limited was not even in the database despite having been cleared to the Mining Commissioner resulting in finance not billing land levy and the cyanidation activity they are doing.

“Council lost revenue to the tune of US$17 600 as a result of not following the procedure for entry point and public consultation.

“The audit observed that finance raised incomplete receipts with either no details of payment or name of the customer and the receipts were totalling ZWL$32 122 998,04 and USD$24 067,29 for the funds received by council through direct deposits in the period January 1, 2022 to December 31, 2023,” the report read.

Nyamutswa yesterday confirmed the audit report saying a probe team has since been instituted to investigate the matter.

“The matter is still under investigation, we will update you on the outcome,” he said.

The case was reported under RRB number 5868210.

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