By Blessings Mashaya
Embattled Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere yesterday fired all the 25 Chitungwiza councillors over corruption allegations.
MDC organising secretary for Chitungwiza Rangarirai Mutingwende alleged the move was a part of a bigger plot to enable the cornered Zanu PF national political commissar to investigate town clerk George Makunde, whom he accuses of abusing office by deploying council vehicles to ferry people to a demonstration against him in Bindura.
“The target is Makunde, who is strongly linked to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s faction,” Mutingwende claimed.
“This issue is more of Zanu PF factional fights. After firing all the councillors, Kasukuwere wants to set up an independent commission so that he will investigate Makunde,” he added.
Efforts to get comment from Makunde and Chitungwiza mayor Phillip Mutoti were fruitless as their mobile phones went unanswered.
MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu accused the Zanu PF political commissar of not following due procedure in dismissing the councillors.
“The MDC is deeply concerned and indeed worried by Local Government minister’s action of suspending our councillors without following due process and most importantly, without according our councillors the right to fully present their side of the story,” he said.
“We hasten to emphasise that as a political party, the MDC has got a zero tolerance policy to all forms of corruption. That said, we strenuously condemn and denounce the unilateral and punitive decision of punishing anyone accused of corruption before following due process,” Gutu added.
He further said the MDC councillors “should be accorded the opportunity to fully present their side of the story lest we will justifiably conclude that they have been politically-victimised by the minister”.
According to the Chitungwiza Residents Trust, the combative Kasukuwere used the Local Government Laws Amendment Act to suspend the Zanu PF and MDC councillors.
An inside source said: “Kasukuwere is now fighting back and Makunde’s days are numbered. It is unfortunate that the MDC councillors are being fired due to Zanu PF fights.”
Last year, a Chitungwiza internal audit exposed a massive stands scam implicating the mayor, councillors and staffers.
The report showed that several councillors and workers had assumed the role of the planning department by allegedly conniving to identify undeveloped stands and submitting land for verification and allocation to the department of housing in a well-orchestrated syndicate. According to the report, Mutoti’s four-year-old son was allegedly allocated a stand and later sold it, while Zanu PF councillor Charamba Mlambo acquired more than 40 stands.
Zanu PF councillor for Zengeza Ward 7, Charamba Mlambo, allegedly identified a total 40 stands for allocation to himself.
The report showed that a total 99 stands were allocated to councillors and staff.
The audit also revealed that councillors and council staff took advantage of the absence of a properties database.
The report recommended that culprits fingered scam be charged as per council’s code of conduct.
The scandal prejudiced the cash-strapped local authority of millions of dollars in potential revenue.Daily News