The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) which is investigating cases in many local authorities across the country is finalising dockets that could lead to arrest of senior officials at the Bulawayo City Council over alleged graft.
Recently, the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works sent a probe team to Bulawayo to investigate corruption allegations, including the unprocedural allocation of stands to councillors and senior council officials. Countrywide.
In an interview in Gweru last week, the Minister of Local Government and Public Works July Moyo said there is an urgent need to curb corruption in urban councils to improve service delivery.
“In all the urban councils across the country, we have serious land scam issues and I have sent teams all over for further investigations and bring to book those found on the wrong side of the law,” he said.
“You know, in some of these urban councils, councillors and staff and I emphasise, councillors and staff, end up taking land, which was open land and they start having stands and if they have the stands, the allocation system becomes skewed towards themselves, family and their party. We think some of the land scams was for fundraising for their political party rather than doing correct things for the benefit of the residents.” The urban councils have been accused of turning open spaces into housing or commercial stands without following laid down procedures.
“So, in terms of the law, you cannot change an open space into housing units or stands without the minister signing, so it’s very easy to check and we have checked like in Harare and we will check in other cities,” he said.
“In Harare, I think we have more than 20 open spaces which were made residential or commercial stands without going through the normal channels. After unearthing that, we then gave names, the evidence, processes and violations of the law which were given to law enforcement agencies including Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc).”
In Gweru, Zacc is investigating irregular land sales involving councillors and management.
Sources at Town House have revealed that investigators have already requested several documents from city management amid indications that some officials and councillors might have corruptly benefited from land sales and would be brought to account.
Sources said Zacc investigators have also requested the list of all Gweru councillors who served in the last term and details of land sales involving them.
Bulawayo Town Clerk, Mr Christopher Dube was in the eye of a storm recently after a proposed allocation of a stand to him ahead of the renewal of his employment contract.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works, Mr Zvinechimwe Churu said:
“The focus of the investigation is not just on Bulawayo but all urban local authorities. The ministry would like to ascertain if councillors and senior officials are adhering to the law and good governance in this area.
We have undertaken this exercise after developments that have taken place in Harare and would like to assure ourselves and Government that such practices are not nationwide.”
Sources close to the investigations revealed the probe team was particularly interested in the town clerk’s land offer and councillors’ and officials’ purchase of land.
The anti-graft team is also interested in the allocation of a plot in Rangemore to the mayor, Councillor Solomon Mguni and an application by the mayor to construct duplex flats on stand number 19789 Bulawayo Township, which was eventually turned down by councillors.
In an interview, Zacc spokesperson, Mr John Makamure said:
“We are doing thorough investigations in Bulawayo, which is why our team is still there, over two weeks on, our aim is that we have an airtight docket that will lead to convictions hence we are gathering the necessary documentation and evidence relating to the BCC issue.
“We are working hard to weed out all corruption within our local authorities, as it is, we have reports in Bulawayo, Harare, Kwekwe and Gweru to mention but a few, where we are gathering the necessary evidence for us to effect the arrests.”
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