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Bulawayo council loses fuel to scam

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BULAWAYO City Council (BCC) allegedly lost nearly 10 000 litres of diesel in a fuel scam involving senior management meant for road construction and other service delivery projects.

LIZWE SEBATHA
The fuel scam resulted in council’s acting director of roads Dalithemba Sibanda being dragged to an internal disciplinary board instituted by Makhosi Tshalebwa, the BCC human capital director on April 12.

A recent council audit unearthed the shady dealings involving senior management, resulting in Sibanda being dragged to a disciplinary hearing. Sibanda escaped with a written warning.

The fuel was meant for road construction at a time Bulawayo motorists complain of gaping potholes resulting from the heavy rains. 

Before the rains, Bulawayo’s roads were already o at a time when the local authorit due to critical shortages of fuel.

The local authority routinely blames failure to collect waste in most suburbs in the city on fuel challenges. 

Council needs at least 80 000 litres of diesel and 50 000 litres of petrol to operate per month.

It is understood that between December, 2020 and February this year, council received 20 000 litres of diesel for service delivery and road rehabilitation projects. 

“Between January 11 and February 26 this year, the accused person, issued several requisitions instructing the Stores Controller to issue stores to fuel tankers that were purportedly said to belong to Asphalt Products (Pvt) Ltd, a contractor that had won the contract, to undertake road works in the city,” sources said.

The fuel was delivered and stored at the Khami Road main stores.

“In February this year, the contractor ran out of fuel before completion of the project and was asked why he could not complete the works as per the contract after having been paid in advance and he explained that he had not received fuel and was expecting 10,000L.”

An internal audit was carried out leading to Sibanda being asked to explain the discrepancy. He failed to give an explanatory answer, resulting in his suspension pending disciplinary hearing.

“In the hearing, Sibanda apologised and explained that when he did this he was under the direct instruction board,” sources said.

Bulawayo town clerk Christopher Dube confirmed the internal audit and disciplinary hearing in an interview  although he refused to comment much, saying it is still under investigation.
“The matter is still under investigation and I cannot be seen pre-emptying the investigations. I cannot comment before the matter is finalised,” Dube said.

However, the Affirmative Action Group (AAG) hit out at council for not reporting the matter to the police as the black empowerment lobby group accused city fathers of abetting corruption.

“What is surprising in this case is that no police report was made and Sibanda, despite being found guilty, got away with a written warning,” AAG chief executive officer Denzel Sita questioned.

The fuel scam comes at a time the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) has launched a probe into allegations of corruption involving city fathers and senior management. 

BCC housing director Dictor Khumalo became the first casualty of the Zacc prove following his arrest on 10 October on charges of flouting tender and procurement processes as stipulated by the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Act.

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