BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
A PROBE into alleged corrupt practices at the Bulawayo City Council is still underway, the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) claimed as it tried to dispel talk that the investigations have been abandoned.
The probe into the local authority’s operations followed complaints by residents’ representative groups and other stakeholders particularly on issues relating to the improper allocation of housing stands and flawed tender and procurement processes.
Council’s housing director Dictor Khumalo became the first casualty of the ZACC probe following his arrest on October 10 last year on charges of flouting tender and procurement processes as set by the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Act.
Bulawayo mayor Solomon Mguni and council management were also quizzed by the ZACC investigators.
With regard to Mguni, Bulawayo residents had queried how the mayor was offered a plot in Rangemore for a song and questioned the proposed allocation of a stand to Bulawayo town clerk Christopher Dube, under his conditions of service, ahead of the renewal of his contract.
ZACC spokesperson John Makamure denied claims the anti-corruption body had suspended the investigations after failing to make any headway as he appealed to residents to avail information that might lead to the arrest and prosecution of alleged council corrupt officials.
“As long as there is information and a report is filed, we will immediately investigate,” Makamure told Sunday Southern Eye.
“We will spring into action. We call upon residents who have information to come forward as we are ready to carry out any further investigations.
“The probe has not ended, but we would appeal to residents, informants and others for information, which can assist in our investigations.”
In a complaint to ZACC last year, the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Associations (BPRA) raised concern over a trend where council officials were amassing huge tracts of land under questionable circumstances.
“We are very disturbed and concerned with this growing trend of council officials being given land when more than 121 000 residents remain on the council housing waiting list with no prospects of getting any land,” BPRA wrote
“To us, this comes across as criminal abuse of office as defined in section 174 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.”
Local government experts argued the fight against graft in the municipality would only be successful if council audit offices were made independent with powers to investigate council directors, town clerks and management.
At present, internal auditors in local authorities report to their directors and town clerks, effectively taking away their independence and power to investigate council management and councillors.