Mash East Correspondent
Allegations of corruption, embezzlement of public funds, nepotism, flouting of tender procedure and gross incompetence have hit Mutoko Rural District Council.
Residents are accusing council chairperson Councillor Christopher Karimazondo of conniving with management led by acting chief executive Mr Samson Zulu to milk the local authority dry.
Acting chief executive Mr Zulu admitted to some anomalies.
“We have an old fleet that is being services at a local garage, which might not be the right place, but our new vehicles are serviced at proper garages. Just two weeks ago, our Toyota Land Cruiser was at Mike Harris Toyota for a major service,” he said.
However, council chairperson Mr Nhidza could not be reached for a comment as his mobile number was unreachable.
In an interview, Mutoko Residents Association chairperson Mr Stanford Maguma yesterday said the residents were disturbed by the rate of nepotism.
“Council is losing a lot of money due to corruption where the council is deliberately sending council machinery and cars for service at unauthorised backyard garages, against laid down tender procedures.
“Mr Zulu is personally conniving with one Mr Peter Ranganai a local unqualified mechanic to provide service and overcharge the council in a deal the duo is sharing the profits,” he alleged.
Independent investigations done by this publication showed that despite the council having a fully qualified mechanic it preferred the services of Mr Ranganai an artisanal mechanic who holds no qualification in motor mechanics.
Our news crew observed one of the council vehicles, a white Toyota Isuzu registration number AAE 9013 being repaired at the backyard workshop.
The laid procedure is that council vehicles are repaired and serviced at reputable garages.
Mr Maguma also accused council of awarding, without going to tender, the maintenance of Oliver Newton Road to ward 20 councillor Robert Jembere.
He said Clr Jembere then proceeded to hand-pick relatives to do the road maintenance works while the shoddy job was being supervised by unqualified people.
Contacted, Clr Jembere denied any wrongdoing in being awarded the tender and said the recruitment of the workforce that did the job was Mr Zulu’s responsibility.
“I am not aware of what you are talking about. You can ask Mr Zulu because he is the one who is responsible for hiring employees,” he said.
But Mr Zulu responded: “Surely, what qualifications are required in patching up gravel roads?”
A council employee who pleaded for anonymity for fear of victimisation also told The Herald that there was tangible evidence which pointed to corrupt activities within the council under the watch of chairperson Karimazondo.
The employee raised an eyebrow in the promotion of one Zephania Nhidza who has been the head of various departments including for human resources and social services ahead of better qualified people.
“Nhidza is involved in a double dipping scandal where he earns salaries from both the Ministry of Health and Child Care and the council, but nothing is being done about it.”
“Council also employed a holder of a diploma as planning technician yet the council has a full time qualified engineer. The unqualified planning technician is the one illegally allocating stands in connivance with the officials and sharing the spoils.”
Mr Zulu responded: “Nhidza’s post as Executive Officer (EO) Health is grant-aided by Government and he will retire soon.”