Local Government Minister Saviour Kusukuwere on Thursday sternly warned the Mutare City Council in Manicaland province against continued acts of corruption on allocating stands, extravagance lifestyles of top council management and the awarding of advance loans to senior managers while workers have not been paid for almost two years.
The minister came short of sacking the entire council management but said he is giving them a second change.
On the other hand, Manicaland Provincial Affairs Minister Mandi Chimene urged him to fire all senior managers.
Kasukuwere made these remarks when he presented findings of investigations on problems faced by the local authority, which were conducted by his ministry.
In the report, senior council managers are accused of even going on holiday while ratepayers are not accessing basic services at a time 1,500 workers have not being paid for 20 months.
The minister lambasted the council management for lack of innovativeness, saying it was also failing to recover at least $30 million owed by residents in terms of service charges.
He said it is puzzling how employers are going to work without being paid their monthly salaries.
“From the findings it has come to our attention that there is some extravagance on the use of resources here where the top brass in council go on overseas holidays at council’s cost, their children learn out of the country at expensive schools and they enjoy vehicle loan facilities. This should not be the case. It has to stop.”
He said such action by the council management was tantamount to mortgaging the city and its entire residents.
Kasukuwere chided the city fathers for an overdraft the local authority has with a local bank, which continues to balloon while revenue is shrinking.
“The staggering overdraft accumulated on non-productive areas is unacceptable and the residents and ratepayers should not pay to quench your tastes, we do not want a situation where we tie down or mortgage the city to achieve what you want as individuals. You have to finance your lifestyle on your own.”
Chimene, while delivering closing remarks at the meeting also attended by local councilors and some stakeholders, urged Kasukuwere to sack the entire management claiming that they were corrupt.
She said there was need to change the council managers, some of who she mentioned by name.
“In this council we need a total revamp, with your help or maybe with the help of the report I beg my collegaues elected members to do your work , to fire them and you can re-employ. There are lots of people in the streets who can do better than these corrupt beings.”
Chimene said corruption in the city council is deep-rooted.
“There is an attitude problem in the management of the top council officials. I will put a proposition on who should go first. Because I already know who should go, definitely people should leave before they are sent away, it is normal to be corrupt in the council than not to be.”
Mutare-based journalist Andrew Mambondiyani said the findings are a non-event since most council officials nationwide are said to be corrupt.