VINCENT MHENE IN GWERU
The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) has descended on Gweru City Council to comb through corruption allegations and maladministration issues that have rocked the local authority.
The probe, which observers said could net high profile officers, is being done by Zacc in collaboration with officials from the Ministry of Local Government and the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara).
Business Times can report that Zacc investigations began on Monday this week.
Gweru Mayor, Josiah Makombe, confirmed the visit by the anti-graft body.
“I can confirm that the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission is finally here, they came on Monday and I don`t know how long they will be here. That will depend on what they are looking at,” Makombe told Business Times.
Well-placed sources at Gweru City told Business Times that the Zacc team has been holding crunch meetings with top council officials and the townhouse was “burning” since the team’s arrival.
Last week, Business Times reported that some of the Point-of-Sale (POS) machines used by Gweru City Council for revenue collection were not linked to any of the council accounts.
The POS scandal came on the heels of reports of illegal land sales by council staff which could have triggered the multi-agency probe.
But Makombe said the Zacc team came at the behest of the city council to investigate malfeasance and want the anti-corruption body to restore sanity at his council.
“They are here as per our invitation. Remember there have been a lot of issues that we have always said Zacc must come and look into and they are here to look at those issues.
I’m sure they will look at other issues. It is not that they are limited to what we think needs to be looked into but as Zacc people you know if they are in your home they look at everything,” Makombe said.
Contacted for a comment, Zacc spokesperson John Makamure could not specify the nature of investigations the commission was undertaking at Gweru City Council saying the visit was part of Zacc’s systems and compliance reviews of public institutions.
“It’s a team which is reviewing systems and compliance. There are no specific issues being investigated.
It is a joint team with the Ministry of Local Government and we are visiting local authorities as part of our mandate to look at systems and compliance issues and give recommendations,” Makamure said.
Apart from Zacc, two other teams from Zinara and the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works are also conducting some inquiries at the city council.
Zinara last year cited Gweru City Council as one of the road authorities in the Midlands province that were delaying to acquit road funds, thus delaying the disbursement of more funding from Zinara.
The team from the Local Government ministry is carrying out a land audit, targeting all urban local authorities around the country.
Gweru has been plagued by reports of illegal land allocations, as council officials allegedly parcelled out residential stands through shady and corrupt ways.
Last year an audit report by the Local government ministry revealed that the city council allocated stands to workers without approval from the parent ministry and partly prejudiced beneficiaries of the Mkoba 21 housing scheme, among other irregularities unearthed by the audit report.