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Shocking abuse rocks council

By Everson Mushava

A government investigation into the operations of Zvimba Rural District Council unearthed shocking levels of corruption and mismanagement prompting councillors to fire the chief executive officer.

Peter Hlohla was fired on Friday after a full council meeting resolved to show him the door following a damning report released by a committee set up by Local Government minister July Moyo.

According to the report, the Zvimba council lost about $168 406.60 after councillors were given illegal discounts for stands in one of the many scandals
exposed by the investigation.

Hlohla was accused of illegally reducing sizes for housing stands in the Sandton Park residential area in a scam that prejudiced the local authority of over
$105 018.

The fired CEO also allegedly gave discounts to people that did not deserve them in violation of the law.

“It was alleged that Hlohla allocated one J Yotamu stand number 493, which he discounted on the basis that Yotamu was a ministry official yet he is a farmer
and a politician,” the report reads in part.

Hlohla also allegedly issued an open-ended offer letter to the Zvimba district administrator only identified as A Tizora, which saw her embarking on illegal
developments.

A former councillor, C Saidi, was allocated multiple stands and disposed of them without following due processes, the report says.

The investigators also unearthed an irregular contract where a company installed a security system at the former CEO’s Chinhoyi house.

“It is alleged that the security and transport officer, one G Manyumbu, was heavily involved in the tendering process of CCTV intruder systems,” the report
says.

“It is further alleged that CCTVs were installed at both council and the chief executive officer’s private residence in Chinhoyi using council funds.”

The Zvimba council also allegedly installed a biometric access control system without going to tender at a cost of $15 283.80.
Investigators said the local authority was not benefiting from the installation of the system.

“The chief executive officer should be held accountable for fruitless and wasteful expenditure on a biometric access control system since it is not yielding
intended results as per Section 45 (c) of the Public Finance Management Act [Chapter 22:19],” the report added.

Hlohla allegedly bought 15 bulls from Matopos Research Centre without following proper procedures.

“The 15 bulls have not yet been delivered to council despite a payment of $17 000 having been made to Matopos Research Centre on 3 October 2017,” the report
says.

“The CEO authorised the payment of $17 000 (exceeding the stipulated tender limit of $10 000) towards the purchase of 15 bulls without going to tender.”

In May 2017, the Hlohla-led executive also bought Samsung Sl phones for personal use claiming they would be used for data collection.

“It is alleged that council paid $58 000 for the crafting of a code of conduct in 2013 that was never affected and is incurring more than $300 000 in legal
costs despite having full-time managers,” the report says.

Council also awarded a tender to Edichip Construction Company on August 8, 2018 worth

$242 000, but the company had no capacity and ended up using council equipment.

Most of equipment that disappeared was also found to be in the possession of members of the top management while investigations were not made to try to recover
missing equipment.

It was alleged that council allocated vehicles and fuel for the fired CEO’s wedding anniversary held in Kariba and for one B K Chafesuka’s wedding in Mvurwi
against policy that council does not fund private events.

The investigators recommended that Hlohla must be disciplined for a number of cases where council was prejudiced of millions of dollars.

Hlohla was early this year arrested for alleged criminal abuse of office after he was accused of involvement in shady land deals.

Some of the charges that led to his expulsion included gross corporate governance failure, making unilateral decisions without council resolutions and
prejudicing the council of millions of dollars.

The investigation, conducted from March 6 to June 16, was commissioned after several reports of corruption by the local authority, which included flouting of
tender procedures and irregular land deals.

“Overall, there is overwhelming evidence of poor leadership and management incompetence on the part of the chief executive officer, Mr P Hlohla,” the report
seen by The Standard reads.

“He did not only fail to provide necessary strategic direction to council, but has also become part to the flagrant violation of the Rural District Council Act
Chapter [29:13], Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act [Chapter 22:23] and council policies.

“He is failing to institute disciplinary proceedings on some employees who are found wanting.

“There is overwhelming evidence of mismanagement with respect to human resources issues, contract management and residential stands management as evidenced
by high staff turnover of senior managers at Zvimba council and hanging procurement contracts.

“The chief executive officer is largely responsible for the declining state of affairs at Zvimba council.

“It is, therefore, recommended that council takes necessary disciplinary action against Mr P Hlohla for maladministration.”

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