By Kenneth Matimaire
MUTARE, 15 January, 2016 – CORRUPT city executives could soon find themselves jobless after a recent audit into the use of the eastern border city’s funds exposed massive looting by top managers.
The message was clear from Local Government Minister Saviour Kasukuwere’s Thursday address to councillors and city managers at the Civic Centre chambers.
Kasukuwere, who is on a tour of local government “hot-spots” which include Gweru and Chitungwiza ostensibly to address challenges facing residents and workers, said he was disappointed with Mutare’s audit results.
“We have to make sure that the councillors read as a full council meeting and agree amongst themselves who must go first and go last. I have been clear, if the city hall does not clean the city, I will clean the city,” said Kasukuwere, during a visit to the city.
Announcing his visits to the press in Harare earlier during the week, Kasukuwere said Mutare council employees have gone unpaid since May last year, adding that service provision was in shambles while revenue collection systems were near dysfunctional.
On Thursday, the Zanu PF political commissar further promised to institute a full scale investigation into the conduct of implicated managers with criminal action likely to be taken.
Kasukuwere said the city was operating in defiance of the Urban Councils Act as well as the Public Funds Management Act, among some of the statutes governing the running of local authorities.
The recent audit, said Kasukuwere, has further unearthed evidence of serious extravagance by executives who were channelling scarce public funds on expensive foreign holidays, school fees, electricity allowance, housing benefits and loans.
Kasukuwere said the level of corruption at Civic Centre is unacceptable.
“Management, you can’t run Mutare the way we are seeing Mutare being run. This chaos, lack of planning, centralised administration, egoistic, manoeuvring is totally unacceptable,” he said.
“Corruption, corruption, corruption, which is in this document, must come to an immediate stop.
“Allocation of stands in a corrupt, lack of collection of rates, failure to follow up what is due to the council, destruction of structures of council is all in this document. It must stop.”
Speaking during the same occasion, Manicaland Provincial Affairs Minister Mandi Chimene charged that the entire management running the beleaguered local authority should be fired for corruption.
“I am giving you my submission on who should go first because I already know who should go. And for the city to survive, definitely people should leave before they are sent away,” she said.
“There is rampant corruption in this council. They are not even ashamed of doing it. It’s more official to be corrupt that to be normal. If you are not corrupt in this council, I don’t know which world you are coming from.”
She boldly demanded the immediate resignation of city human resources manager Aaron Chemvura and housing director Sternard Mapurisa, further urging the remaining lot to follow suit.
Mutare City Council was last year found to be spending about $2,4 million in allowances designed to hide earnings from the taxman since 2012.
According to an audit, which was conducted by the Urban Development Corporation (UDCorp),11 managers pocketed over 200,000 in non-taxed monthly allowances, which amounted to $2,4 million in 2012.
Town clerk Obert Muzawazi reportedly received $32,252 in non-taxed monthly allowances, while Chemvura and acting health officer Simon Mashavave reportedly pocketed $22,867 and $19,480, respectively.
In 2013, the council recorded a budget overrun of 63 percent, spending nearly $30 million against the projected $19 million while missing its revenue collection target, which Nhamarare blamed on overstaffing and debts.