Chitungwiza under probe

Blessings Chidakwa Municipal Correspondent

Chitungwiza Municipality is once again under investigation, with a six-man commission set up to investigate alleged irregularities in human resources, land sales, corporate governance and the circumstances around the recent dismissal of Town Clerk George Makunde.

The commission, chaired by Mr Edgars Seenza, was given 14 days to report back.

In an interview last Friday, Local Government acting permanent secretary Retired Colonel Joseph Mhakayakora said the latest probe team to investigate Chitungwiza was appointed by Minister July Moyo.

“The minister has appointed the probe to team to investigate the running of Chitungwiza Municipality as there are many reports of some irregularities taking place,” he said. “The team will report back after two weeks.”

The investigations stem from last year’s harmonised elections which brought no change for Chitungwiza residents as elected mayor Gift Tsverere and his deputy Jabulani Mtunzi resigned after serving for barely six months as a result of their suspension by the High Court in October following an application challenging their election by Zanu-PF councillor Kevin Mutimbanyoka.

Councillor Lovemore Maiko was then elected mayor and was deputised by Musa Makweza.

Maiko was arrested together with ward 2 councillor Kudakwashe John and works director David Duma less than a year into his term. The three were charged with criminal abuse of office involving the sale of 2 000 square metres of commercial land at Chigovanyika Shopping Centre in Chitungwiza.

They later sold 1 500 square metres of land to the wife of the mayor after a council resolution, national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said.

Mayor Maiko is however not fazed by the commission.

“Let the commission do its work, and it is our sincere hope that its work will help improve efficiency and effectiveness in terms of service delivery,” he said.

“Our thrust is to put systems in place and build a strong institution and ensure that we bring law and order in Chitungwiza. We have a clear mandate and that is to deliver, this include dealing with all hygiene issues; hence our resolution to have a forensic audit. This is in our effort to have a clean and smart Chitungwiza.”

A month later after Maiko’s arrest, director of housing Hazel Sithole was arrested for conniving with Duma to allocate a commercial stand worth over $30 000 to a local company, Metalhill Investments (Pvt) Ltd, without following due process.

Duma, who is facing counts of abuse of office, was appointed the town’s acting town clerk by Maiko following the suspension of Dr Makunde.

Chitungwiza Progressive Residents Association Secretary General Mr Gift Kurupati said the commission should restore sanity in the town.

“I am made to understand that the probe team wants to find out what happened between mayor and town clerk,” he said. “It will be good if the commission comes up with a permanent solution to our problems as residents.”

Chitungwiza has had a lot of corruption allegations.

Fourteen years ago, Chitungwiza mayor Mr Misheck Shoko was arrested by police and was later suspended by a commission that investigated allegations of misconduct and complicity in the decline of service delivery in the town that were levelled against him.

In 2011, the then town clerk Mr Godfrey Tanyanyiwa was also fired and subsequently arrested on corruption, fraud allegations, including placing his housemaid on council’s payroll. In 2013, housing director Jemina Gumbo was also fired for illegally changing land use plans and unprocedurally allocating vast tracts of land to Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa’s United Family International Church (UFIC).

Four years later, Government suspended Mayor Phillip Mutoti and all 24 councillors for allegedly corruptly allocating themselves tracts of land worth over $7 million resulting in the appointment of a caretaker commission for Chitungwiza.

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