GWERU: The City of Gweru has told CommuTalk that all stands that had not been paid for by outgoing and some sitting councilors had been paid for and up to date.
Debate has been ragging between council, residents and pressure groups following the recent Auditor General’s report which highlighted that council was owed more than a million in unpaid stands. The report also highlighted that some of the debtors were councilors.
Upon a follow up to City of Gweru Mayor Josiah Makombe’s sentiments that ‘…council was set to reposes all stands not paid for…’ during a virtual meeting hosted by Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD), Makombe told CommuTalk that they have since realized that all stands had been paid for.
“We are taking swift strides so that we correct all wrong that was noted in the auditor’s report. I will however like to make it clear that we have since revisited our books and realized that all councilors who were owing the City of Gweru had paid their debts,” said Gweru Mayor Josiah Makombe.
The audit report did not specify which councilor owed what though a forensic audit report conducted by the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing showed that councilors owed council ZWD125, 779.44 as of 2015.
Owing councilors were Tiripayi Chipondeni ($9,167.96), now late Artwell Matyrauta (8,544.96), Joas Tsanyawo ($7, 594.96), Nokuthula Mbano ($2, 00.45), Charles Simbi ($5,580.96), Catherine Mhondiwa ($1,777.38), Norman Mhondiwa ($7, 925), Tawanda Magidi ($5,980.26), Gibson Fundira (8, 369.25), Ernest Guduza ($8,083.86), Bonface Magara ($8,603.86), Albert Chirau ($5,406.16), Moses Marecha ($6, 962.18), Willard Ndaguta ($8, 650.46), Charles Chikozho ($8,883.20), Farai Muza ($3,080.07), Stanford Mukotami ($4,103.43), Simon Chapukira ($4,649.66), Silas Furo ($4, 649.66), Ferinos Mukwazhe ($2, 957.18) and Enock Chikweche ($2,209.30).
Councilors Cathrine Mhondiwa, Tawanda Magidi, Albert Chirau, Charles Chikozho and Farai Muza got second terms and are still sitting in current council.
Inflation figures however still leave City of Gweru at a loss as total amount paid towards the debt is approximately USD932 for 21 stands; an amount that is way less than cost of one stand. The figure is translated into a loss considering fact that none of the owing councilors had paid more than half deposit for the stands in question.
Both the Forensic Audit and Auditor General’s report that the stands audited had been acquired between 2008 and 2015.
The Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Number 12 of November 2016 actually requires councilors to pay 40% of the full purchase price on stands allocated to them as a benefit during tenure of office.
However, the City of Gweru is said to have passed a resolution number 630 in 2015 which varied the payment period from 5 years to 10 years.
It is believed that with this clause that was implemented without Ministerial approval, councilors became reluctant towards clearing debt which at law should be cleared during one’s tenure in office.
Gweru Urban Parliamentarian Brian Dube has however urged council management and councilors to join forces and close all leakages in the local authority.
“Those who are supposed to be accountable should face the law. I would like however to urge the acting town clerk and councilors to join hands and clamp all leakages in council,” Dube said.