A probe team appointed by Zimbabwe's local government minister Ignatius Chombo to revive the Chitungwiza municipality, a dormitory town 30km south of Harare, has become the latest lightning rod in the shaky government of national unity.
The Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and residents of Chitungwiza are bitter that the team, led by Manicaland provincial administrator Fungai Mbetsa, is costing the cash-strapped municipality thousands of dollars.
Workers allege that Mbetsa is getting US$26,000 in salaries and allowances per month, his deputy about US$14,000 while the five committee members are getting about US$13,000 each. Mbetsa himself says he is earning US$16,000 plus allowances.
As a result the MDC wants the cabinet and the anti-corruption commission to probe Chombo for alleged corruption. The MDC is furious that Chombo reinstated 20 councillors the party has fired for alleged corruption last year.
Chombo then belatedly appointed a probe team to lead the local authority citing corruption and dereliction of duty by councillors.
Chombo told VOA's Blessing Zulu that that his “detractors” are attacking a team he says has been turning around the fortunes of Chitungwiza.
But Chombo’s deputy, Cecil Zvidzai of Tsvangirai MDC formation accuses his boss of corruption saying he’s parcelling out such jobs to people with close links to ZANU-PF and the minister himself.
Chitungwiza municipality workers are threatening industrial action to force Chombo to reverse his decision on the so-called revival team. They have since served the council with a strike notice citing the allowances being paid to the team when they have gone for months without pay.