Patrick Chitumba Midlands Bureau Chief
Gweru City Council is being investigated by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) after the Government unearthed serious corruption by MDC-Alliance councillors who are allegedly allocating themselves and their families stands on State land.
This is despite a moratorium on the selling of stands issued by the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works.
Some councillors allegedly bought more than one stand allowed by council policy, while documents show that in one particular case, a councillor bought stands for his five-year old and 13-day old children in contravention of council’s by-laws, which prohibit such sales since minors do not have contractual capacity.
Zacc officials spent the better part of last week at Gweru’s Town House investigating the irregular land sales and seized documents relating to the cases.
Sources at Town House said they requested the list of all councillors who served in the last term and details of land sales they were involved in.
Gweru mayor Councillor Josiah Makombe confirmed the development saying: “Zacc officials are investigating land sales involving management and councillors. It has been long overdue that they come.”
Documents show that officials in the housing and community services department allegedly allocated themselves more than a stand each at a time when there is a moratorium on the selling of stands.
According to the City of Gweru debtors billing document, the director of Housing and Community Services Mr Shingirirayi Tigere got one stand in Randolph Phase 1 and another one in Senga suburb.
Mr Tigere has since made part payment towards the purchase of the two stands.
Mr Tigere’s assistant Mrs Unity Jaji got a stand in Randolph Phase 1 and another one in Mkoba 21 and has also made part payment towards the purchase of the two stands.
Another assistant director Mr Manford Gambiza was also allocated a stand in Mkoba 21 and another in Randolph Phase 1 and has since made part payment towards the purchase of the two stands.
Housing officer Mr Admire Chigayo also got a stand in Randolph Phase 1 and the second one in Mkoba 21.
Clr Albet Chirau of Ward 11, who has been at the forefront calling for the ouster of his perceived enemies from the local authority, is now under spotlight after it emerged that he purchased stand numbers 6835 Senga Infill and 6841 Senga for his children Leon Munashe, who was 13 days old and Shaun, who was five years-old on the day of purchase.
Clr Chirau confirmed purchasing the stands, but blamed the issue on council management.
“My children did buy those stands,” he said. “If the law does not allow juveniles to purchase stands, the council must not have accepted the money. It is not my fault. It is the fault of the people who receipted the money.”
In an interview in Gweru last week, Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo said there was urgent need to curb corruption in urban councils to improve service delivery.
“In all the urban councils across the country, we have serious land scam issues and I have sent teams all over for further investigations and bring to book those found on the wrong side of the law,” he said.
“You know, in some of these urban councils, councillors and staff end up taking open land and they start developing stands and the allocation is skewed towards themselves, their family and party. We think some of the land scams was fundraising for their political party rather than doing correct things for the benefit of the residents.”
Minister Moyo said in terms of the law, it was illegal for urban councils to arbitrarily change land use without his ministry’s approval.
He said in Harare, his ministry carried out investigations and handed over the findings to the police.
“In Harare, I think we have more than 20 open spaces which were made residential or commercial stands without going through the normal channels,” said Minister Moyo. “After unearthing that, we then gave the names, the evidence, processes and violations of the law which were done to law enforcement agencies, including Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission.”