4 council executives named in land scam
MUTARE City Council has placed on forced leave four executives who are believed to be behind fraudulent land sales that bled the local authority over the past two decades.
This follows a request made by Government auditors who are currently stationed at the Civic Centre to investigate dubious transactions that reportedly prejudiced the local authority millions of dollars in lost revenue.
Chamber secretary, Mr Cephas Vuta, revealed on Tuesday that Messrs Christian Sithole (Chief Community Officer), Isdore Bingura (Para Legal Officer), Joaquim Gonese (Valuation Officer/Valuer) and Tawanda Kanengoni (Legal Officer) were sent on forced leave as per request from the auditors.
“We had external auditors last year who routinely audit council affairs as per statutory requirements.
“The audit was done by UDCORP and these auditors picked up a lot of anomalies to the effect that land was abused in Mutare for past 10 years or so.
“So in their findings the auditors advised council to engage Government so that it sends its auditors to specifically look into the land issue.
“This is why the ministry has sent the current auditors who have been doing their work at the Civic Centre for more than five weeks now,” said Mr Vuta.
In their preliminary findings, he said, the auditors found out that the four council executives were heavily involved in fraudulent land deals.
“The findings of the auditors were based on interviews they did with clients, evidence they collected from council and various other methods they used to come up to that conclusion.
“They said the implicated council officials were heavily involved in the corrupt deals.
“The security of the auditors was the main issue or rather reason they asked council to send the quartet on forced leave in order to finish their findings without hindrance or intimidation,” said Mr Vuta.
He said the auditors have taken a short break and would resume duty soon after which they would present a detailed report to council.
It was not clear whether the audit team was also looking into land scandals involving councillors who recently exposed each other.
Last month mayor - Councillor Tatenda Nhamarare - ordered the Town Clerk, Mr Joshua Maligwa, to immediately present a report that details all the stands that were allocated to sitting councillors amid reports that some city fathers corruptly obtained the pieces of land.
This follows an outcry by fellow councillors who accused him of forcing management to allocate himself a residential stand that was allegedly set aside for a church building.