The Mutare Council has adopted a damning Local Government Special Audit Investigation Report, which has recommended the firing of some allegedly corrupt city officials.
The local authority says it is studying the report that accuses some officials of abusing council resources at the expense of ratepayers.
Mutare mayor Tatenda Namharare said they want to make concrete decisions after going through the report that was compiled and presented to city fathers last week by the Ministry of Local Government headed by Saviour Kasukuwere, who is also Zanu PF commissar.
“We are going to study the report as respective councilors and go to our different committees as directed by the issues in the audit. If they are financial issues the finance committee will need to meet and discuss the content and come up with their resolutions and then we would report back to the permanent secretary Erica Jones as required.”
Town Clerk Obert Muzawazi refused to comment saying he will do so at the most appropriate time. He could not elaborate.
Manicaland Provincial Affairs Minister Mandi Chimene has already recommended the dismissal of all council officials accused of corruption. The council has until February 29th this year to take action against the accused city officials that include Muzawazi, Housing Director Sternard Mapurisa, Health Officer Simon Mashababe, Engineer N. Ramhewa, Human Resources Manager Aaron Chemvura, Engineer Donald Nyatoti, Town Planner R. Simbi, M Mawadza and Finance Director Llyod Musasa.
They are among 11 city officials who allegedly granted each other allowances for paying rent, school fees, power charges and other issues. The officials refused to comment.
Some Mutare residents like David Mundirwira have welcomed the damning report.
Mundirwira said the firing of corrupt officials is a positive development.
“First and foremost any attempts to bring sanity to the management of council affairs is very welcome from any quarters and what we are calling for is sincerity of such threats whether they will be undertaken as we have had such threats in the past and other audits as well with no action.”
Another Mutare resident, Favourite Mutimbe, echoed the same views noting that he is happy that government is taking stern measures against corrupt council officials.
“ I think they must be fired because of what they have done to the city and in addition they have to be sued for abuse of office during this period.”
The government has over the years suspended and or fired councilors and officials in some cities and towns claiming that they are corrupt. Some of them have been accused of parceling prime land to friends without following proper council procedures.
Edson Dube of the United Mutare Residents and Ratepayers Trust, though welcoming the move to fire allegedly corrupt city officials, has questioned the seriousness of the Ministry of Local Government in taking action against graft.
“I think first of all we welcome the findings of the minister and what we want to know now is when he is going act on the findings now. It is not the first time for us to hear about corrupt activities at the civic centre and key to this is the time frame. It is a welcome development for all progressive citizens.”
Edgar Chirwa, a ward chairperson representing Chikanga, said the dismissal of the city officials was long overdue.
“Yes they must be fired because they have made us go through a hard time. We have been waiting for them to change their attitude for a very long time and they have not changed at all. We want them to be fired as they are taking a lot of money while the workers are not being paid. They corruptly drive people out of homes to give to their friends and there is no reason to keep them at all.”
But Malvern Mangisi, a local resident, argues that the top council managers need a second change as they may have acted out of ignorance.
“I think if they work hand in hand with the minister of local government these managers there would be no problems in the near future as unlike before there has not been a cordial relationship between them.”
Bishop Sebastian Bakare of the United Mutare Residents and Ratepayers’ Trust and the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe, said he is looking forward to a smooth settlement of the matter haunting the city for the benefit of local people.
“The issue of corruption for example has been on our lips for a long time we have been talking about poor service delivery for a long time and the city officials have made us believe there is no money no money no money, at all. Fine there is no money so when the minister talks about corruption, we say ahaa now what we are talking about is universal.”
Angry residents have been staging protests since the presentation of the report calling for the resignation of all council officials named in the report for allegedly engaging in unconventional ways of making money.