By Khumbulani Maphosa
Councilors, Chiefs and members of the House of Assembly who attended the Gwanda Rural District Council full Council meeting on 25 September 2009, have raised their concerns on the way the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZIMVAC) is operating in the district.
ZIMVAC is a committee made of various government agricultural organisations and is mandated to make assessments on the food security situation in the country. Some of the organisations that constitute the committee are AGRITEX, AREX, Ministry of Agriculture, the District Administrator’s office and Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO).
The Councilors were concerned that ZIMVAC has been producing yearly reports on the food situation in the district, yet they have never been seen carrying out any on-the-ground surveys in communities. There were also concerns that the Councilors have never received the survey reports, but they only hear of the results through the media.
Honourable M.P O.S Mlilo explained to the Councilors that ZIMVAC was a defunct organisation and will have to explain to them how they are carrying out their surveys.
“ZIMVAC is now defunct and has always been complaining that it is broke, so where do they get the money to move from village to village conducting surveys?” he said.
Clr Mlilo furthered that ZIMVAC has been carrying out surveys from the offices and thus misrepresenting facts. This issue came to light when some Councilors revealed that World Vision was cutting on the number of people who are eligible for food aid, contrary to the harsh reality of imminent hunger and starvation that is so real on the ground. World Vision then explained to the house that it takes reports and recommendations from ZIMVAC, which is a national organ co-coordinated from the District Administrator’s office.
World Vision explained that the ZIMVAC 2009 report that they received indicated that Gwanda communities have enough food and need little of food assistance from the donor community and other agencies.
During the same meeting the Gwanda Rural District Council Audit Committee chairperson Mr George Chipengo recommended to full council that a capacity building programme would add value to the operations of the Audit Committee “so that it’s able to monitor and advise council on pertinent issues.”
Mr Chipengo made the recommendations during his presentation to the full council meeting of the 2007 Externally Audited Accounts. The Audit report that was made by an external auditor Schmulian and Sibanda indicated that council complied with all expected financial procedures and systems in accordance with International Accounting Standards. The presentation was based on the following accounts:
Income Generating Project Account
Cattle Projects Account
Roads, Projects, Works and Planning Account
Human Resources Development and Administration Account
Salaries and Wages Account
General Reserves Account
Capital Development fund Account
Zimbabwe National Road Administration Fund (ZINARA).
The Councilors adopted the external audited account statement. They further adopted a recommendation to have Schmulian and Sibanda Chartered Accountants engaged to audit the council’s accounts for the year 2008.