Blessings Chidakwa Municipal Correspondent
Harare City Council yesterday suspended human resources director and former housing director Matthew Marara and 13 other employees to allow investigations into corruption allegations that could have prejudiced council of US$1,1 million in shoddy land deals in Kuwadzana.
The other suspended officials are: principal housing officer Mr Edgar Dzehonye, Tonderai Mukora from the Survey Section, Believer Mupawaenda (housing cooperative officer) and Tapiwa Gona (public lighting) along with Tineyi Kureva, Margaret Sarudzai, Mazano Zvakanyorwa, Wellington Tauya, Austin Tapuwanashe, Bernard Mukucha, Rudo Pauline Chigocha, Kizito Chikowore and one only identified as George.
Allegations are that they illegally sold 152 stands in Kuwadzana in a deal fraught with irregularities in the approval of plans and production of layout plans prejudicing council of US$1 141 779 in the process.
The suspended officials allegedly identified open spaces in Kuwadzana 3,4,5 and 6. There was no application for change of land use. The group then created fictitious payment schemes and fraudulent layout plans.
Plans were presented as if they had been approved by council and were used to facilitate water connections and the creation of accounts in the municipal financial system.
Harare town clerk Engineer Hosiah Chisango yesterday confirmed the suspensions.
“The suspensions are part of the recommendations made by the Audit Committee to allow the ongoing investigations against those implicated in land deals,” he said.
A special meeting of the Audit Committee deliberated on the recommendations to suspend the officials yesterday. Mr Bozman Matengaru is now the acting human resources director.
In a statement, the council said it was also working to recover the 152 stands. Marara and some of the fingered personnel have since appeared in court on corruption and fraud charges.
Council spokesperson Mr Michael Chideme recently encouraged residents who felt short-changed in the allocation of residential stands through the housing department to report to the municipal police headquarters with evidence or proof of their transactions.
In an interview yesterday, Harare Residents Trust director Mr Precious Shumba said the decisions being made were commendable, but still hid the depths of corruption.
“Corruption in the City of Harare is deeper than currently portrayed in the case of the 14 accused and suspended workers,” he said.