By Moses Matenga
Investigations into the shady land deals within Chitungwiza Town Council claimed their first scalp last week when the Local Government Board approved the dismissal of the local authority’s housing director Jemina Gumbo.
Gumbo was charged with illegally changing land use plans and unprocedurally allocating vast tracts of land to Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa’s United Family International Church (UFIC).
The board’s decision followed recommendations by an eight-member team that was appointed to investigate the matter by the Ministry of Local Government, Urban and Rural Development.
In a report dated April 26, 2012, the team recommended that Gumbo be sacked after finding her guilty of flouting land allocation procedures and assuming the role of director of urban planning services. The team submitted its recommendation to the board which approved her dismissal.
Gumbo became the second high-profile Chitungwiza council official to be fired after former town clerk Godfrey Tanyanyiwa was relieved of his duties over corruption charges earlier this month. Her sacking comes amid reports that six councillors were also facing the axe over the same charges.
The committee established that Gumbo allocated stands without council approval, and in many instances assumed duties of the council’s director of urban planning services. According to the report, Makandiwa’s church, which is building a multi-million complex in Chitungwiza, benefited from the scam.
“The stand on the map is zoned a commercial stand, but respondent (Gumbo) changed its use from commercial to a church stand without following the standing procedures and without council resolution to change from commercial to church stand,” the report read in part.
“She changed the land use of stand 19772 from stadium to commercial use without council resolution and ministerial consent.”
The report noted that there was no record of a council resolution to show that the reallocation was authorised.
“It also noted that the UFIC got the stand the same day it had applied for it. The respondent’s duties were, among others, to administer the allocation of stands with the authority of the council. That instead of waiting for authority to be given, she appropriated the authority of the council by allocating and repossessing the stands.
“The stand was allocated to (one) Chitsiko in 2010 and that his lease agreement was still in operation, but respondent reallocated the stand anyhow to UFIC without terminating the initial lease agreement with Chitsiko and no correspondence was ever done to Chitsiko informing him of the latest developments.”
The committee also submitted that Gumbo and her lawyer refused to participate in the hearings and instead walked out in protest.
“Even if they had participated, the general outlook of the matter shows that the misconduct can hardly be described as ‘so trivial, so inadvertent, so aberrant or otherwise so excusable, that the remedy of summary dismissal would be inapplicable’,” read the report.
“On the contrary, the misconduct is serious and premeditated and calls for a serious sanction.” NewsDay