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Councils big shots in serious trouble





A number of top officials from councils across the country face arrest over corruption allegations amid indications that some face the chop after they landed their positions through underhand means.

The impending arrests stem from an exposé by auditor-general (AG) Mildred Chiri in her 2019 financial report on local authorities which details cases of graft and misgovernance.

In the case of Chinhoyi municipality, a ghost nurse employee was paid US$15 000 in salaries for the whole year during the period under review.

A number of local authorities were exposed for operating without valuation rolls and or not having title deeds to their properties necessary for billing and taxation, having poor revenue collection structures and non-compliance with various statutory obligations among other various corruption acts that bled councils.

Valuation rolls are lists of properties situated within the boundaries of a given local authority compiled for the purposes of billing and taxation.

The Urban Councils Act Chapter 29:15 provides for the creation of valuation offices by councils.

Parliament's public accounts sub-committee chairperson Dexter Nduna told The Standard that the committee's on-going interrogations on acts of corruption and misgovernance had aroused the interest of police and the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC), resulting in the recent conviction of a Masvingo council employee.

The Masvingo employee, who faced charges of not receipting parking fees, is doing community service in Chiredzi.

In Masvingo and Chitungwiza, it emerged that the axe is swirling on town clerks Edward Mukaratirwa and Evangelista Machona who were improperly appointed as town clerks.

"We are soon to also see some convictions according to the AG's report and that has seen a lot of financial haemorrhage caused by non-adherence to systems in local authorities, chief among them is Engineer Mukaratirwa of Masvingo, who was appointed from deputy engineer's position to the town clerk's position," Nduna said on Friday.

"His appointment went against all those values (Urban Councils Act).

"It is the same with Machona.

"She was appointed from an accountancy point of view without taking into cognisance the person, who was chamber secretary at the time.

"She and the mayor of that town are partners in crime and ZACC will soon be visiting them because ZACC was part of the meeting that we held where we  interrogated [both] Chitungwiza municipality and Masvingo.

"In both instances, you will find that they are partners in crime."

Mukaratirwa, then a deputy city engineer, was appointed acting town clerk in September 2019, taking over from the long-serving Adolph Gusha, who retired in August of the same year.

Mukaratirwa was appointed substantive town clerk in June this year.

Machona was appointed acting town clerk in August 2020, taking over from Tonderai Kasu. At the time, Machona was the municipality's finance director.

"We are using the criminal code and reform Act in order to criminalise anybody found wanting," Nduna

"We are interrogating more than 43 local authorities who have been mentioned in the AG's report.

"We know for a fact that the 2022 AG's audit report will be clean because of the blood that is going to be on the floor now, which is going to inform the behaviour of local authorities in the future."

ZACC spokesperson John Makamure yesterday confirmed the ongoing investigations in local authorities.

"We are simply executing our mandate to fight corruption," Makamure said.

"When it comes to the AG's reports, we review the reports and if there are matters to do with corruption, we pursue those.

"We also work with parliamentary committees so that Parliament can also play its part so that some of the AG's recommendations are implemented."

On September 10, the under fire Masvingo town clerk begged for mercy when he appeared before the public accounts sub-committee on local authorities when asked to respond to other charges of abuse of fuel.

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Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka
Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka

Chuka is an experienced certified web developer with an extensive background in computer science and 18+ years in web design &development. His previous experience ranges from redesigning existing website to solving complex technical problems with object-oriented programming. Very experienced with Microsoft SQL Server, PHP and advanced JavaScript. He loves to travel and watch movies.

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