By Garikai Mafirakureva
Chiredzi Rural District Council (RDC) has pampered its six top executives with top-of-the-range Toyota Hilux GD-6 double-cab vehicles at a time service delivery has plunged to unprecedented levels.
The vehicles, sourced for the human resources and administration officer, finance officer, technical services officer, environmental, agriculture, campfire, and tourism officer, community services officer and audit officer, came at a cost of $393,6 million or US$480 000 using the official auction rate.
A council source who spoke on condition of anonymity told Southern Eye that Chiredzi RDC used some of the money paid for Mhangula Triangle lease by Malilangwe Conservation Trust and rates from Hippo Valley Estates to fund the extravagance.
The Mhangula lease was for US$110 000. The community was expected to have its share of US$80 000, with Chiredzi RDC only entitled to US$30 000.
Council chairperson Edward Matsilele confirmed that they bought vehicles for top executives, but disputed the cost of the vehicles.
He said it was a personal loan scheme which council only guaranteed.
“They (top executives) took personal bank loans to buy those vehicles and as Chiredzi RDC, we are only paying 60% of the total cost of the vehicles as guarantee to the bank. Those are second-hand cars and are valued at US$30 000 and not US$80 000 as many people think. That price is for new vehicles,” Matsilele said.
“The loans are payable over three years and the vehicles will remain council property until the loans are fully serviced.”
Former Chiredzi Town Council chairperson, who is former Chiredzi North MP Ronald Ndava (Zanu PF), said he was surprised that the broke local authority chose to splash on top executives while big corporates like sugar-producing giant, Tongaat Hulett could not afford such vehicles for senior staff.
“I just saw the cars, but I think that’s a misplaced priority. It means some services will be neglected until those vehicles are fully paid for. Some of the roads are in a bad state and are inaccessible and other services are in a sorry state, but they could still afford such glitzness,” Ndava said.
United Chiredzi Residents and Ratepayers Association spokesperson Bernard Dachi said: “Something is not adding up here, and it remains a mystery how a bank can give someone earning Zimbabwean dollars a loan in United States dollars?
“Even if the vehicles are costing US$30 000 each, as the chairperson is saying, where did they get US$18 000 which is 60% of the total value. We are not saying they should not get vehicles, but the type of vehicles should also be considered.”
In December last year, Chiredzi RDC bought 32 motor bikes for its councillors. The motor bikes were also said to have been purchased through a loan scheme. The total value of the bikes could not be immediately established. NewsDay.