BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
THE Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa (ACT-SA) has petitioned the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) to investigate alleged corruption and maladministration at Gokwe Town Council.
The petition was copied to the police, Local Government minister July Moyo, Midlands Provincial Affairs minister Larry Mavima, Office of the President and Cabinet, Auditor-General Mildred Chiri’s office and the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe.
ACT-SA claimed that several employees, who disclosed the corrupt activities, have since been fired or silenced by top council officials.
In its second petition last week, the independent anti-corruption body expressed concern over Zacc’s failure to act on an earlier report submitted three months ago.
“The Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa is counting 91 days of inaction against the alleged corruption by the Gokwe Town Council. The allegations report has been served to Zacc, ZRP, Office of the President, Local Government ministry, Auditor-General’s Office and Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe and nothing has been heard, but the corrupt tendencies at the Gokwe Town Council continued unabated,” the petition read.
In the report, ACT-SA said violations of the Procurement Act, fraud and maladministration had paralysed the local authority.
“In February 2011, the local authority paid US$23 000 for a brand new Nissan Hardbody NP 300 vehicle, but to date, it has not been delivered. Town secretary Melania Mandeya was allegedly paid a salary and allowance for December 2014 when she only started work on January 5, 2015. Protests at the council level did not help to stop her from enriching herself and there is proof of the payments made,” the allegations read.
“There is rampant corruption on awarding of tenders. The tender for the supply of curtains for the new Gokwe Town House did not only violate tender regulations, but was awarded to a relative who was staying in the same house with the town secretary, Mandeya, at the time of award.”
It is alleged that in May this year, a tender for catering services was awarded to district development co-ordinator Steward Gwatiringa using another person’s name and part of the payment for the tender was used to pay for a residential stand for Gwatiringa, raising suspicion that the catering tender was given to his relative.
The local authority allegedly bought an accident damaged Chevrolet vehicle for the town secretary for US$58 000 against a council resolution proposed by former Zanu PF councillor, Davison Masvisvi, and seconded by five councillors to use other bidders, who charged US$51 000, for a brand new Chevrolet, thereby saving US$7 000.
The report also alleges that senior managers at the local authority are violating council internal policies.
For instance, finance director Jockonia Nyoni allegedly gave his son a council Foton Tunland twin-cab vehicle with which he later got involved in an accident, but councillors’ demands for a report were ignored.
Council reportedly paid for vehicle repairs.
It is alleged the councillors have also been failing to bring Mandeya to book over donated grants from the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and Zimbabwe Revenue Authority.
It is further alleged that the local authority paid US$23 000 to a suspicious person for a Volvo firefighting truck, which had been donated by one Mr Lobels.
Town secretary Mandeya is alleged to have resisted a forensic audit since 2015 following a recommendation by the council finance committee led by Zanu PF councillor Davis Taruvinga.
Zacc spokesperson John Makamure said: “Our Gweru office is handling the investigations and we are waiting for a brief from Gweru on the current position of their investigations. We received that report from ACT-SA on September 11 this year and the next day, the Gweru office wrote a memo to the Harare office seeking a resolution and on October 10, the Harare investigations manager ordered the opening of the report.
“On October 21, we invited the Gokwe Ratepayers Association chairman and his deputy, Nephas Mhangami and Bertha Sibanda, respectively, for interviews and on November 4, we drafted a letter to permanent secretary for Local Government seeking a forensic audit. We have also invited ACT-SA director Obert Chinhamo and programme adviser Munyaradzi Bidi for interviews and they are now waiting for a journey to Kwekwe and Gokwe for investigations.”