ACTING Gweru district development coordinator Tarisai Mudadigwa has written a letter to acting town clerk Livingston Churu, ordering him to stop plans by councillors from the Douglas Mwonzora-led MDC-Alliance to rip off the council through illegal acquisition of residential and commercial ahead of the August elections that are bound to bury their political careers.
In the letter dated 5 July 2023, Mudadigwa revealed that Gweru council officials from the housing department have since taken leave days to run away from pressure from the Mwonzora councillors who are threatening to victimise them over refusal to bow down to pressure to issue them land unprocedurally.
Part of the letter reads: “It has come to the attention of this office that there are reports of unprocedural demands of privileges and stands by outgoing councillors of the City of Gweru.
“The office is well informed that the council repossessed 22 stands both residential and commercial across the city due to non-development.
“Furthermore, this office is well informed that the same councillors have already been accommodated in acquiring stands before as required by the law, and also the same councillors are pushing you as the Acting Town Clerk to suspend certain staff members especially in the housing department.
“This has resulted in quite a number of staff members taking leave days waiting for council to be dissolved. In light of the above, you are being advised to ensure that proper procedures are followed in the process of repossession and reselling of the above mentioned stands (i.e. re-valuation and public re-advertisement of the stands).
“Also you are advised to ensure that you put an end to victimisation of council employees by the outgoing councillors.”
The development comes at a time when Gweru residents are up in arms with city mayor Hamutendi Kombayi (pictured) over his proposal to bill for all goods and services in United States dollars in a move largely seen as again earmarked for the Mwonzora councillors to line their pockets.
Kombayi last week proposed to bill for rates and other charges in United States dollars, claiming it was meant to cushion council against inflation and the fast depreciating local currency at a time when the government has already overruled payment of rates in forex.
“Dear residents, the current rise of the inter-bank rate versus our billing rate is causing problems as we are failing to provide quality service delivery,” he said.
But Gweru residents said the move would not only put more financial pressure on them, but council could also not be trusted in its bid.
Gweru Residents and Ratepayers Association executive director Cornelius Selipiwe said they suspected that the councillors were desperate to loot the local authority’s money after rates had been pegged in forex.
“Last time, they decided to buy a vehicle worth between US$170 000 to US$180 000 for a single official at the expense of service delivery.
“This means their priorities are always wrong. Look at the kind of trips they undertake and so when they propose something, we look at it with scepticism because we don’t trust them with our money in their hands,” he added.
Selipiwe said residents were already financially overburdened, with debts to council of over ZW$12 billion and were shocked by the move to charge them more unaffordable fees.
“Now the council wants to convert residents’ debts to USD, which is unfair. Council must come up with business entities so that they do not over-rely on residents. Council should take back City Park and the abattoir where they can charge in USD,” he said.
He added that the council was not paying its pensioners and workers in US dollars, and cannot therefore force residents, some of whom are its employees, to pay in US dollars.