Byo deputy mayor, 4 coun­cil­lors sus­pended ‘TYSON’ WIELDS AXE AT BCC

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Vusumuzi Dube

THE deputy mayor of Bu­l­awayo, Coun­cil­lor Gift Banda, and four other coun­cil­lors were yes­ter­day sus­pended by the Min­is­ter of Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment, Pub­lic Works and Na­tional Hous­ing, Cde Saviour Ka­sukuwere, over a raft of al­le­ga­tions in­volv­ing un­der­hand deal­ings and ram­pant cor­rup­tion.

In a move aimed at weed­ing out the rot within the Bu­l­awayo City Coun­cil, Cde Ka­sukuwere sus­pended Clr Banda to­gether with Clrs Charles Moyo (Ward nine), Mzama Dube (Ward 25), Reuben Matengu (Ward 21) and James Sit­hole (Ward seven) dur­ing a meet­ing he held with city fa­thers in coun­cil cham­bers.

The sus­pen­sions came in the wake of rev­e­la­tions that the lo­cal au­thor­ity is owed more than $500 000 in il­le­gal land deals in­volv­ing coun­cil­lors who have been ac­cum­mu­lat­ing vast tracts of land at the ex­pense of the peo­ple.

An in­de­pen­dent tri­bunal will be con­sti­tuted in the next two weeks to look into the five sus­pended coun­cil­lors’ mat­ter

There were also re­ports that the BCC was un­der the con­trol of a clique of so-called pow­er­ful coun­cil­lors with no re­spect for man­age­ment and staff and who re­sort to threats to push through their de­ci­sions.

Clr Banda has been in the eye of a storm re­gard­ing a num­ber of cor­rup­tion al­le­ga­tions in­clud­ing the pur­chase of a piece of land at As­cot Race Course for the con­struc­tion of town houses.

He bought the 3,5 hectares of land for a pal­try $130 000 in a move which raised eye­brows and the ire of res­i­dents as­so­ci­a­tions and pres­sure groups.

Sources at the lo­cal au­thor­ity al­leged the land was sup­posed to cost about three times more.

Cde Ka­sukuwere re­vealed that only five out of the city’s 29 coun­cil­lors were cleared of cor­rup­tion al­le­ga­tions.

The coun­cil­lors who came out clean in­clude the Mayor, Clr Martin Moyo (Ward three), Clr Mon­ica Lu­bimbi (Ward 29), Clr Con­cilia Mlalazi (Ward 18) and Clr Lot Siz­iba (Ward 13).

The other 24 coun­cil­lors are ex­pected to ap­pear be­fore a tri­bunal on a date to be an­nounced.

Ac­cord­ing to Cde Ka­sukuwere, coun­cil­lors owed the lo­cal au­thor­ity over $500 000 in il­le­gal land deals in­di­cat­ing that the five who were sus­pended were just a tip of the ice­berg.

“The re­port shows that most coun­cil­lors in Bu­l­awayo have come in to ac­cu­mu­late stands at the ex­pense of the peo­ple they serve.

“It seems coun­cil­lors think that they have the right to ev­ery prop­erty that is avail­able.

“Coun­cil­lors have been al­lo­cated land for hous­ing, pub­lic con­ve­nience, open space, agri­cul­tural land, com­mer­cial space, school and crèche stands, flea mar­ket stands and brick mould­ing zones. To make mat­ters worse, most coun­cil­lors have not made an ef­fort to pay for the land re­sult­ing in coun­cil­lors ow­ing over half a mil­lion dol­lars on the prop­erty they have ac­quired,” said Cde Ka­sukuwere.

He said an in­ves­ti­ga­tion team had also un­cov­ered ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties within the tendering sys­tem (in­clu­sive of the Ter­ra­cotta deal for the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of Ego­dini bus ter­mi­nus) where con­tracts are changed to suit the con­trac­tor not the city.

The Min­is­ter said he had been forced to in­ter­vene as pre­vi­ous at­tempts to warn coun­cil­lors had proved fruit­less.

“Coun­cil has awarded a ten­der that is talk­ing of 40, 55 and 99 year leases whereas the Man­age­ment of Ur­ban State lands rec­om­mends nine and the Gov­ern­ment it­self does not give leases in ur­ban ar­eas for more than 40 years. A 99-year lease is three gen­er­a­tions or 18 coun­cils.

“I will be leav­ing my of­fi­cials to deal with the spe­cific is­sues. They will help the BCC to come up with a re­cov­ery ma­trix. I’ve been watch­ing Bu­l­awayo but when a coun­cil does not op­er­ate within the pa­ram­e­ters of our laws, then it’s my con­sti­tu­tional duty to in­ter­vene and that is why I’m here to­day,” said Cde Ka­sukuwere.

He said they will be ap­proach­ing the Law So­ci­ety of Zim­babwe which will pro­vide names of lawyers who will sit in the in­de­pen­dent tri­bunal to look into the five coun­cil­lors’ mat­ter.

The tri­bunal will be an­nounced in the next two weeks.

“I must warn the other coun­cil­lors that we’re not say­ing they’re not cor­rupt but these five are just the top five. The oth­ers will still have to de­fend their cases but we won’t be nec­es­sar­ily sus­pend­ing them.

“Coun­cil man­age­ment should also be warned that the re­port is clear on their cor­rupt ac­tiv­i­ties but I can­not deal with them di­rectly, it’s now up to the coun­cil­lors to deal with them be­cause my man­date is to deal with coun­cil­lors and man­age­ment falls un­der them,” said Cde Ka­sukuwere.

The Min­is­ter be­moaned the fact that the BCC had its last au­dit car­ried out in 2012 in­di­cat­ing that this was not sur­pris­ing as it was clear that the lo­cal au­thor­ity had a lot to hide.

He im­me­di­ately or­dered the lo­cal au­thor­ity to bring their au­dit to date or face the wrath of the law.

“There’s an el­e­ment of con­spir­acy in coun­cil. Although coun­cil­lors re­cuse them­selves from meet­ings, their in­flu­ence is still present re­sult­ing in wrong de­ci­sions be­ing made.

“Some coun­cil­lors have been threat­ened and no ac­tion is taken by the mayor im­ply­ing that he may also be un­der threat.

“Coun­cil ap­pears to be un­der the con­trol of a clique of so-called pow­er­ful coun­cil­lors with the oth­ers sim­ply rub­ber stamp­ing bad de­ci­sions. Coun­cil­lors don’t have re­spect for man­age­ment and the staff of coun­cil and re­sort to threats,” fumed Cde Ka­sukuwere.

The Bu­l­awayo Pro­gres­sive Res­i­dents As­so­ci­a­tion (BPRA) ini­tially raised the red flag over the rate at which coun­cil­lors were al­legedly grab­bing land in the city lead­ing to the Gov­ern­ment send­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion team to get to the bot­tom of the mat­ter.

The team was ex­pected to in­ves­ti­gate cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing the sale of the As­cot Race Course piece of land to Clr Banda.

Clr Banda was also in the eye of a storm re­gard­ing the up­grad­ing of the Ego­dini bus ter­mi­nus amid al­le­ga­tions that the deputy mayor was linked to the com­pany- Ter­ra­cotta- which had been awarded the $60 mil­lion project.

Two other coun­cil­lors, Sit­hole and Charles Moyo were also ac­cused of cor­ruptly pur­chas­ing land for town houses at Park­lands worth $184 000 and $112 000 re­spec­tively.

Min­is­ter Saviour Ka­sukuwere Clr Gift Banda

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