BIKITA Rural District Council (BRDC) is under fire from residents after the local authority engaged a private company owned by its chief executive officer Peter Chibi and the head of finance department to run two commercial entities and enforce traffic by-laws at Nyika Growth Point on behalf of the local authority.
The development came a few days after council terminated the contracts of 25 workers amid reports that the local authority is in financial dire straits.
Bikita recently acquired topof-the-range vehicles for its executives at a total cost of US$380 000. According to a certificate of incorporation in the possession of The NewsHawks, Bikita Hanyanya Investments (Private) Limited, which was registered on 3 June 2021, has two directors, namely Chibi and Never Mavhuna, with each owning 50% shareholding.
A special Human Resources and Gender Committee meeting held on 30 May 2022 resolved that the private company commence operations, with employees enforcing traffic by-laws.
It also resolved that employees in the security, cleaning and income-generating projects be transferred to the company after working out their exit packages and counselling the affected employees on the implications of the transfer.
The private company will also run council’s two entities, namely Pambudzi Lodge and a conservancy in the Save Valley, on behalf of council.
Council chairperson Benjamin Masakadze told The NewsHawks that the idea of forming the company came through a council resolution but it was not agreed to register the company in Chibi and Mavhuna’s individual names.
He promised to investigate the issue, saying he is yet to see the company’s registration certificates.
“We agreed as council to form a private company as a way of generating and saving money for our local authority. We resolved not to register that company in individual names, but l am hearing that it now belongs to individuals. I am going to the council offices on Monday to investigate the issue,” said Masakadze.
Efforts to get a comment from Chibi were fruitless as he was not reachable on mobile phone throughout the week. Investigations by The NewsHawks revealed that the company, which is now operational, does not have an office.
Information about its banking details and payments received so far is not clear. Bikita Residents and Ratepayers Association (BIRRA) spokesperson Mark Mutengani told The NewsHawks that Bikita is in the hands of a corrupt cartel which is hampering the development of the district.
He said it is worrying that employees can form a company to run the affairs of their employer without consulting residents.
“We wrote a letter to the relevant authority, calling for the termination of the unholy contract issued to Bikita Hanyanya. We are worried as residents to note that two council bosses formed a company for the purpose of engaging it to run council affairs as a private company. This is totally unacceptable, dubious and corruption at its highest level. How can employees form a company to run affairs of their employer?”
“More so, residents were never consulted in the whole process. It’s long overdue for a wake-up call to our council employees. Just this year alone, our council was involved in a vehicle scandal, borehole scandal, just mention a few, and we are worried that no concrete action has been taken. We are surprised; are they immune to the law? We pray for sanity at our council as corruption and looting is taking centre stage,” said Mutengani.
BIRRA together with other residents and business associations in Bikita petitioned Parliament over the procurement of expensive vehicles which were privately registered but Parliament as well as other corruption watchdogs are yet to respond, raising fears that there might be a strong political hand behind corrupt deals in Bikita.