Di­rec­tor milks Mutare dry

The Manica Post - - Front Page - Abel Zhakata Se­nior Re­porter

MUTARE City Coun­cil has filed crim­i­nal abuse of of­fice charges against its act­ing deputy fi­nance di­rec­tor - Mr Love­more Makande - who is the al­leged king­pin of a syn­di­cate of em­ploy­ees who si­phoned mil­lions of dol­lars from the mu­nic­i­pal­ity through shelf com­pa­nies that sup­plied it with over-priced goods.

Among other charges, Mr Makande stands ac­cused of cor­ruptly fail­ing to dis­close his in­ter­est to his prin­ci­pal as he is a di­rec­tor of some of the com­pa­nies that were sup­ply­ing goods to the lo­cal author­ity.

Town Clerk, Mr Joshua Maligwa, said the lo­cal author­ity was prej­u­diced mil­lions of dol­lars through the well-knit corruption ring that in­volved work­ers from the buyer’s sec­tion and those from the ac­counts ex­pen­di­ture de­part­ment.

“I can­not give you the de­tails of the fraud charges we filed with the po­lice as this will com­pro­mise in­ves­ti­ga­tions. We are afraid that some peo­ple might get alerted and dis­ap­pear,” he said.

“Right now we are look­ing for Mr Makande, but he is nowhere to be found. His cell­phone is not reach­able. It is a so­phis­ti­cated ring which starts from the buyer’s of­fice right up to the ex­pen­di­ture de­part­ment. Th­ese peo­ple formed their own com­pa­nies that sup­plied coun­cil with goods at in­flated prices.

“Their pay­ments would be pro­cessed fast as they are the same peo­ple who would

◆ From Page 1 pre­pare the pay­ment vouch­ers. They made sure that their in­voices were paid first at the ex­pense of other press­ing coun­cil needs that had a bear­ing on ser­vice de­liv­ery,” he said.

Coun­cil filed the re­port at Mutare Po­lice Sta­tion on Wed­nes­day and the case has since been re­ferred to the Crim­i­nal In­ves­ti­ga­tions De­part­ment.

Deputy Man­i­ca­land pro­vin­cial po­lice spokesper­son, As­sis­tant In­spec­tor Luxon Chananda, con­firmed the case.

“The re­port was filed on Wed­nes­day. I can­not say much at this stage be­cause the case is still in its in­fancy.”

Mr Maligwa said soon after as­sum­ing of­fice in April, he took time to an­a­lyse and in­ves­ti­gate what was hap­pen­ing.

“Th­ese guys were mak­ing a killing, lit­er­ally bleed­ing coun­cil dry. Some of the prod­ucts had a 500 per­cent mark up. For ex­am­ple, a prod­uct that ordi- nar­ily sells at $500 on the mar­ket was be­ing sold to coun­cil for $1 500.”

“Sur­pris­ingly, coun­cil was also buy­ing pit and river sand at in­flated prices of $180 per five cu­bic me­tres from the same cul­prits, yet the lo­cal author­ity is sup­posed to come up with its own ex­trac­tion sites in line with statutes pro­vided for by the En­vi­ron­men­tal Man­age­ment Agency.

“On av­er­age, th­ese shelf com­pa­nies which I will not name for now were paid $10 000 per week and the bulk of them are owned by al­most the same peo­ple. When we did our in­ves­ti­ga­tions we found out that most of th­ese com­pa­nies were formed last year and up to this date they were paid in ex­cess of $177 000 each.

“How can coun­cil sur­vive and be able to pay its work­ers when the col­lected rev­enue is be­ing leaked that way?”

Mr Maligwa said coun­cil was also buy­ing fuel at in­flated rates such that it was cheaper for the lo­cal author­ity to queue its fleet at any ser­vice sta­tion in the city for re-fu­elling rather than get bulk sup­plies at ex­or­bi­tant rates.

“Some of the fuel we are talk­ing about was never sup­plied, but coun­cil paid for it. That is scan­dalous. Th­ese em­ploy­ees were us­ing pseudo names when reg­is­ter­ing their com­pa­nies in or­der to avoid de­tec­tion, but we have un­cov­ered their veil,” he said.

Mr Maligwa said the lo­cal author­ity would soon call up for a com­pre­hen­sive foren­sic au­dit and un­earth the corruption that put the mu­nic­i­pal­ity on its knees.

“Can you imag­ine that at one time coun­cil forked out $3 500 to buy 2 000 black waste plas­tic bags that were cor­ruptly sold for $1, 70 each, yet the same goes for 15 cents each in shops, which amounts to only $325. That is the type of corruption that was go­ing on and it should stop,” he said.

“Those who ben­e­fit­ted from this loot­ing must pay back and we will fish them out one by one,” he said.

Ef­forts to con­tact Mr Makande were fruit­less at the time of go­ing to print as his cell­phone was un­reach­able.

Min­is­ter of In­for­ma­tion, Me­dia and Broad­cast­ing Ser­vices, Dr Chris Mushohwe (sec­ond from left) joins the Chi­adzwa tra­di­tional lead­er­ship among them Head­man Chi­adzwa (left) in ob­serv­ing cul­tural rites dur­ing a tomb­stone erec­tion cer­e­mony held at Chi­tangazuva Re­burial Ceme­tery in Chi­adzwa on Wed­nes­day. (See story on Page 3)

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