BIKITA residents are up in arms against their local council after it failed to account for US$100 000 paid by Bikita Minerals as levies in December last year.
This development comes at a time when Bikita Rural District Council is in the eye of a storm following the arrest of its executives by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) for unlawfully benefitting from a credit scheme which saw heads of department receiving Toyota GD6 single cab vehicles.
Bikita Residents and Ratepayers Association (BIRRA) spokesperson Mark Mutengani told The NewsHawks that it is surprising to note that Bikita Rural District Council received a substantial amount from Bikita Minerals five months back, but there is no trace of how the money was spent.
He said there are fears that the money was used to service vehicle loans which benefitted individual employees.
“As residents we are worried by this gross mismanagement by our council. We feel the council departed from its core mandate of service delivery. How can the whole US$100 000 disappear without a single cent being channelled towards any project that benefits society? We think that it went to service bank loans for the GD6 vehicles which management bought for personal use at the expense of service delivery vehicles. We will demand answers from the local authority,” said Mutengani.
Council chairperson Brian Masakadze confirmed that the local authority received the money from the lithium miner as payment of levies which is done annually.
He also agreed that council has begun paying back the loan taken to buy vehicles for senior managers, but said they are buying materials to construct clinics and residents will be notified through reports after the completion of the projects.
“We always receive this money as levies on annual basis and l can confirm that we received US$100 000 in December last year. We are buying material and equipment for some of our clinics which are under construction and there is no need for residents to panic since we will notify them through reports. We have since started servicing the vehicle loan and this is being done through deduction from beneficiaries of the scheme,” said Masakadze.
Bikita Minerals Spokesperson Collin Nikisi said the lithium miner paid the money as levies, like other businesses in the district are doing. He said the company always holds consultations with the local authority, like any other business entities.
A senior council employee told The NewsHawks that financial issues within the local authority are not being handled in a transparent manner. He said there is a need for a forensic audit to look into the financial books of the local authority since there are many grey areas which should be exposed.