Zacc probes roads scandal

Source: Zacc probes roads scandal | Sunday Mail (Top Stories)

Brian Chitemba
Investigations Editor

THE Harare City Council has suspended director of works, Engineer Isaiah Chawatama and finance manager, Mr Godfrey Kusangaya — at a time when the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) is investigating the council road works scandal.

Zacc has opened an investigation into the falsification of roads works progress figures to influence contracts extension.

The anti-graft body’s spokesman, Commissioner John Makamure confirmed the probe.

Town Clerk Engineer Hosiah Chisango said the move was meant to pave way for an extensive probe into allegations of misconduct.

“We want investigations into a lot of issues which need to be cleared,” he said.

The Sunday Mail obtained documents detailing the suspensions of the top council officials.

The Town Clerk sent Eng Chawatama – who became director of works in 2017 — on forced leave for 45 days with full salary and benefits.

Eng Chisango wrote that: “It has come to my attention that your department is facing some operational challenges that has necessitated an investigation in order to establish the facts on the ground. For purposes of transparency, it is necessary that you be given absence of leave to pave way for this investigation.

“…meanwhile you are directed not to report at your work station to pave way for the smooth flow of the investigations during the leave period unless at my request or any other official delegated by my office.

“Please note that all your benefits will not be affected during this period of leave of absence. Once investigations are completed you will be informed of the results therefrom.”

Eng Chawatama’s forced leave follows a revelation by The Sunday Mail of how the department of works concocted figures on road works to influence contracts extensions for private contractors.

The department of works’ false report was exposed by the procurement division in a letter dated 5 July 2019, which was addressed to Eng Chisango, who in turn ordered an internal audit on the Kelvin South Road.

Council internal auditors also nailed the department of works for stating that 15 percent of works had been done on Kelvin South Road yet nothing had been done. Although no payment had been released for the Kelvin South Road, questions were raised why council roads engineers lied about the progress on the rehabilitation of the road.

A report by the council audit manager Mr Archibald Nyamurova, recommended an external investigation on all the roads which were done by Bitumen World, Fossil Construction, Tarcon, Tencraft Construction — where council forked out $7 455 453.

Payments

A roads works schedule for 2019, shows that Bitumen was paid $4,2 million for rehabilitation of Central Avenue, Harare Drive (Kirkman to Lomagundi), Marimba Road, Harare Street, Livingstone Avenue, Selous Avenue, 5th and 5th Street.

Fossil Construction was paid $1,7 million for rehabilitation works on Exhall Road, Park Street, Park Lane, Leopold Takawira and Cameroon Streets.

Another contractor, Tarcon was given $580 333 for works on Main Street in Highfield, 51st Street, 162th Street, 62nd Street, Cannon Patterson Street1 Avenue and 3rd Crescent Glen Norah.

Council paid Tencraft Construction $195 096 for the rehabilitation of Tafara Way (Mabvuku/Tafara).

Mr Nyamurova recommended that: “An external engineer should be contracted by council to assess the stage of completion of uncompleted roads taking into account materials used and funds already paid to contractors.

“All contracts which expired on 31 December, 2018 to rehabilitate council roads should not be renewed until an audit of all roads which were not completed has been done.”

However, The Sunday Mail understands council has since renewed the contracts until June 2020 yet to external audit was done on all the council roads and funds paid to contractors.

Finance boss suspension

Engineer Chisango seems to be on a serious mission to restore sanity at Town House after suspending the finance manager Mr Kusangaya for neglecting his duties.

The finance boss was supposed to be away for 14 days with full benefits to authorise payment of order number 0100951 for the drilling of boreholes in Mabvuku to facilitate the relocation of Gunhill squatters.

The purchase order had been raised by the procurement division.

“The above alleged misconduct is suspected to have been in breach of Section 4 (a) of Labour (National Employment Code of Conduct Regulations), Statutory Instrument 15 of 2006. Please be advised that you will be formally notified of the outcome of the investigations once the process is completed.

Government has ordered a forensic audit to establish the root cause of the paralysis in service delivery, particularly the inability to supply residents with potable water, which is putting lives at risk.

Minister of State for Harare Provincial Affairs, Oliver Chidawu believes there is a “management crisis” at the local authority.

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