Kasukuwere bleeds cash-strapped Gweru council

The cash-strapped local council has been hard hit by Local Government Minister Saviour Kasukuwere’s order to part with huge sums of ratepayers’ money to pay off a dubious probe team.

Local Government Minister Saviour Kasukuwere

Local Government Minister Saviour Kasukuwere

The team was set up to investigate controversially suspended councillors. The minister also ordered the council to settle hefty living expenses for the three commissioners that have taken over running affairs at town house after he suspended Mayor Hamutendi Kombayi and all councillors.
Documents exclusively obtained by The Zimbabwean show that Kasukuwere compelled the council to part with about $10 000 to pay three officials he personally seconded to make inquiries into allegations that were levelled against three MDC-T councillors initially suspended in May. The three councillors, Kenneth Sithole (Ward 4) Moses Marecha (Ward 5) and Albert Chirau Ward (11) had been accused of misconduct and corruption.
In a letter handed to town clerk Daniel Matau last week, Kasukuwere ordered council to pay $5 000 to the leader of the probe team identified as S Machingauta, $3 000 to D Machingura and $1 200 to D Mutuna, whose services were specified as recorder and transcriber.

No hearings
Sources at town house said how the three conducted the so-called probe was unknown as they did not hold any hearing for the accused city fathers, but only spent few days making inquiries from council officials.
“The figures paid to the sham board of enquiry are astounding. We do not even know what work the board did because we only saw them at town house for a few days and they went away. The accused councillors themselves never met them. It looks like it was just an exercise of milking the council – spearheaded by Kasukuwere,” said the source.
Other sources pointed out that the council was set to be milked even more by another board of enquiry that will come to inquire about the recent suspensions mayor Kombayi, his deputy Artwell Matyorauta and 16 other councillors.
“If those who came to conduct a dubious probe of three councillors were given $10 000, it means those who will investigate 16 others will take home more than $50 000,” said the source.
Other reports also indicate that a three-member commission led by former Masvingo town clerk Cristopher Mhangami, which is now running the city’s affairs, is drawing large sums of ratepayers’ money. The period that the commissioners will be at town house is likely to be 45 days as the constitution stipulates such a period for any case of a suspended councillor to have been finalised.
“The commissioners are being given daily allowances of accommodation and meals at the rate of five star hotels. This is apart from the actual fees that they will be given for running the city and other things like fuel. So we are talking of about $250 being given to each one of them daily. The issue of suspending Gweru councillors looks like it is now having huge monetary benefits for Kasukuwere’s blue-eyed boys,” said the source.
Kombayi lamented the developments. “The council is failing to pay up its workers and also they are battling to raise funds to discharge service delivery, but we have people being given golden handshakes for nothing. The grounds we were suspended on are with no basis and yet council is now losing a lot of hard-earned revenue on a futile exercise,” he said.

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