Thursday, 28 May 2020

TWO ARRESTED OVER $1,2 MILLION CYCLONE IDAI ALLOWANCES


AN assistant accountant in the Chimanimani District Development Co-ordinator (DDC)’s Office as well as an inspector under the Public Service Commission were last week arrested in connection with the $1,2 million that was allegedly swindled at the expense of civil servants who offered relief services when Cyclone Idai hit Chimanimani and Chipinge last year.

Richard Mugano (45) and Levenia Chidzimba (46) were expected to appear before the Chipinge Magistrates on Saturday last week facing fraud charges, but prosecutors referred the dockets back to the Criminal Investigations Department for citation of proper charges.

It has since emerged that the funds are still in the DDC’s account and that payment of the civil servants has since commenced. Civil servants who conducted relief work in Chimanimani after Cyclone Idai hit the district and other parts of the country last year have been up in arms with the local authority’s administration over the delayed payment of their travel and subsistence allowances.

Government, through the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, released the funds long back into the coffers of the Chimanimani DDC’s office. 

Following the devastating cyclone that saw more than 350 people losing their lives, Mutare, Buhera and Chipinge districts paid their workers soon after the disbursement of funds.

But several months later, some of the Chimanimani workers are still to receive their allowances.

Acting Manicaland Provincial Development Co-ordinator, Mr Edgars Seenza said he was informed that some of the beneficiaries have since been paid. It is said the DDC’S accounts department, which is supposed to disburse the funds, has been dragging its feet because it had been inundated with fictitious claims and the emergence of ghost workers. Chimanimani’s DDC, Mr Manyurapasi, said his team is working on some modalities to facilitate payment.

As irate workers raise red flags, it is hoped that the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works will solve the issue once and for all. 

Said Mr Seenza, “An investigation team was sent by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works, Mr Zvinechimwe Churu, to probe the issue.

“We are yet to be appraised of its findings, which will guide us accordingly. When I last got in touch with the Mr Manyurapasi, he told me that the money for the allowances is still in the DDC’s account and the reason for the delay of the payments is the subject of the investigation,” said Mr Seenza.

Chipinge CID spokesperson, Detective Assistant Inspector Vincent Chikuvadze and Manicaland provincial police spokesperson, Inspector Tavhiringwa Kakohwa confirmed Mugano and Chidzimba’s arrest.

The two spent last Friday night in police cells after being picked up at their workplaces in Chimanimani. However, they were released as the police are still conducting further investigations.

The State will proceed by way of summons. “Mugano and Chidzimba were arrested. They are facing attempted fraud charges emanating from unauthorised use of a password or pin number,” said Inspector Kakohwa.

Detective Assistant Inspector Chikuvadze said, “The two were picked by police at their workplaces following complaints by fellow civil servants in Chimanimani that they had connived and illegally deposited large sums of allowances into their relatives’ bank accounts. The beneficiaries are not even members of the Chimanimani Civil Protection Unit.” Manica Post





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