RESIDENTS’ associations in Chiredzi are calling for the implementation of recommendations made by an investigation team appointed by former Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere (pictured) to look into how Chiredzi Town Council was running its affairs in 2016.
The investigation report was shelved, only to be released this Wednesday after the associations approached the High Court. In 2016, Kasukuwere appointed a five-member team led by Alpha Nhamo from the ministry to investigate the local authority after residents raised alarm over corruption allegations.
Surprisingly, the report was never released despite key findings which exposed corruption by both councillors and management which was hampering service delivery in the Lowveld town.
The investigation took place between 29 March and 8 April in 2016 but the report, which The NewsHawks is in possession of, was only released on 18 January 2023 by the Civil Division of the Attorney-General’s Office.
Residents believe that ministry officials including those in current leadership were motivated by rewards or political connections from wrongdoers so that they keep the report under the carpet.
According to the findings, between 2014 and 2016 when the council chairperson was Francis Moyo — now a Zanu PF Masvingo provincial member and aspiring member of Parliament for Chiredzi West — each councillor received 46 stands with the council chairperson getting 71 stands without a formal deliberation in a council meeting.
The team also exposed that 50 commonage stands were irregularly allocated to Inotrade Investments (Pvt) Ltd without a project proposal and proof of funding. Inotrade director Trinity Mutsetse was once a business partner to Moyo.
There was also theft of council land due to non-declaration of low-density commonage stands. An agreement entered between Shineplus Development Trust, a developer, and council was for 560 stands against 629 stands as reflected on the developed layout plan.
This left a difference of 69 stands. The investigation team also noted unprocedural issuance of council houses and vehicles to two former council directors as well as abuse of council vehicles and unlawful termination of contracts for employees among other vast irregularities.
The investigation team made more than 10 recommendations in the report which included the cancelation of an agreement with Inotrade as well as the revisiting of the Shineplus deal.
They also recommended the suspension of council chairperson Moyo as well as the institution of a disciplinary action against former town secretary Charles Mchatukwa, who is now late and rescinding of several full council resolutions which disadvantaged residents.
Chiredzi Residents and Ratepayers Association (CHIRRA) chairperson Jonathan Muusha Mpamombe told The NewsHawks that his association partners United Chiredzi Residents and Ratepayers Association (UCHIRRA) approached the High Court to force the ministry to release the report.
He said the recommendations made in the report should be implemented to avoid similar scandals in future.
“We came together with our sister association and approached the courts to push for the release of the Nhamo report which was released in 2016. There was corruption within our council and it is now our prayer that responsible authorities should now act to implement the recommendations in the report,” said Mpamombe.
United Chiredzi Residents and Ratepayers Association advocacy officer Constance Chikumbo said her organisation is pleased by the release of the investigation report although it took years. She said her association will host a town hall meeting with residents where the contents of the report which unearthed more than 18 anomalies, including flouting of tenders will be discussed.
“As an association we are happy because it was long overdue. We want every annexure in the report to be acted upon. We want to host a town hall meeting where the document will be shared with the public. We do not expect the council management who are implicated to continue serving the public because they have already failed. If the recommendations are not acted upon the cancer will continue and Chiredzi will end up belonging to only a few elites,” said Chikumbo.