BY BRENNA MATENDERE
THE Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission has descended on Gweru council to investigate reports of corruption as well as criminal abuse of office by management and the city fathers led by Mayor Josiah Makombe.
The Zacc investigation officers are currently shuttling between the office of the acting town clerk Vakai Douglas Chikwekwe and mayor Makombe to obtain information that they hope will lay the basis of cases against the city fathers. Yesterday, Zacc spokesperson John Makamure confirmed the development in written responses to Southern Eye.
“We are investigating several council officials after receiving reports of suspected illicit dealings,” he said.
“Our strategy is a combination of investigations for prosecutions and systems and compliance reviews in order to plug loopholes for corruption.”
Makombe also confirmed the probe by the visiting Zacc team.
“They just asked for clarifications on a number of issues they want to investigate. So the ATC (acting town clerk Chikwekwe) is responding to that,” he said.
Makombe referred further questions to council spokesperson Vimbai Chingwaramusee who refused to divulge information on the probe.
“I am not aware of anything of that nature,” she said. Asked to reveal the cases Zacc is investigating at the country’s third largest local authority, Makamure said doing so would jeopardise the probe.
“I am sure by now you know very well that we do not divulge details of investigations underway. The reason is obvious — we do not want to jeopardise investigations,” he said.
However, an impeccable source within Zacc revealed the points of investigation of this paper. “We are basically investigating six cases. The first one is that we want to verify an intelligence situation report (Sitrep) which revealed that the mayor is a signatory to council accounts because as you know mayors are now ceremonial and do not have executive powers to sign for transactions.”
“Zacc is also probing reports that the deputy mayor (Cleopas Shiri) has been given an office at town house yet he is also ceremonial and cannot be accorded such powers to be full time at council. Last there are reports all councillors went to the International Trade Fair without being cleared by the minister for the out of town trip and we are also probing that,” said the source.
The source also revealed that Zacc was investigating reports that the councillors again travelled to Bulawayo to attend the Local Government Investment Conference without ministerial clearance. “The other cases are that some councillors got stands in illicit ways and also that they are influencing employment of workers on political and partisan lines,” the source said.
Similar investigations by Zacc at Gokwe town council led to the arrest of the town secretary, Mellania Mandeya who is now answering several corruption-related charges at the courts.