Friday, 1 October 2021

ACTING TOWN CLERK SUSPENDED AS COUNCILLORS DEMAND SUITS FOR ZITF

MUTARE City Council has suspended Acting Town Clerk — Anthony Mutara — and placed him on indefinite forced leave, while councillors tried to arm-twist management to buy suits for a bloated delegation that attended the just-ended Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) held in Bulawayo, The Manica Post can reveal.

Mutara was suspended last week on Friday by recently appointed acting Town Clerk, Engineer Tinashe Mutetwa, pending the finalisation of corruption cases he is facing at the criminal courts.

When he was arrested by investigators from the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) last month, Mutara requested to be granted special compassionate leave, but the local authority shot down the request, saying he was facing criminal charges that do not qualify him to be granted such vacation.

In a letter dated September 24, 2021, written by Acting Town Clerk, Engineer Mutetwa — a copy of which this paper has in possession — the local authority said the suspension was with full pay and benefits.

“I refer to your employment with City of Mutare as Director of Health Services. I recall that on September 10, 2021, at its special council meeting, the City of Mutare resolved, among other things, that it rescinds its resolution made at its special meeting held on January 22, 2021 to appoint you to act as the Town Clerk until the substantive Town Clerk is recruited.

“Your suspension is a result of the following events; your arrest, detention and subsequent release on bail pending trial on charges of criminal abuse of office; that though released, one of the bail conditions was that you should not interfere with State witnesses and that you applied for and was granted special leave citing incapacity to discharge your duties as the acting Town Clerk.

“I am informed that your trial has not taken place (sic) and was in fact postponed to October 6, 2021. I acknowledge receipt of your letter of today (sic) applying for special leave effective from September 27, 2021 until your case is finalised. In other words, what you have applied for is indefinite leave,” wrote Engineer Mutetwa.

However, investigations by The Manica Post revealed that all has not been well at the local authority in recent weeks owing to unwarranted expenses emanating from the ZITF jaunt.

In a heated argument on a WhatsApp group which was leaked last week, a senior council official believed to be the financial director, Mr Blessing Chafesuka, bitterly complained against the rationale of buying suits for the ZITF entourage at a time the local authority was struggling to pay employees’ salaries.

Although City of Mutare spokesperson, Mr Spren Mutiwi, failed to respond to questions on the council’s ZITF expenditure as he repeatedly promised to do so for close to two weeks, this newspaper understands that all the remaining 12 councillors, five heads of departments and nine supporting staffers attended this year’s annual exhibition.

Reads the leaked message: “It’s not rational in this environment to buy suits for every attendant. If the request was solely for the exhibiting team we could have funded. We can’t afford extravagance at this moment in time.

“I am sorry. Surely, you want me, in my right senses, to process half a million for one person to spend in a single week when I have employees knocking at my door everyday demanding a wage increase from the current $24 000 per month.

 

“Now, look at it, giving someone $25 000 for the whole month and someone wants $500 000 for one week. I am not a politician, but if you guys ask me to be one, I can be. I got all feedback on the lobbying that is happening behind nicodemously, but when decisions are made, everyone has a chance to put on the table their views. We are only surprised when some of us here start side shows to lobby against a collective management position.

“Ngatisahwandirane, taurai nyaya dzenyu tiri mumeeting. Kwete kuzoti FD tapedza meeting. It is not about FD. (let us not play hide and seek, say your issues during meetings. Let us not blame the financial director after the meeting).

“What is the use of being smartly dressed in Bulawayo when our employees have several months’ salary arrears? Is this what other cities are doing? Besides, show me one project that came out from ZITF exhibitions ever since we started exhibiting. This is just one way of giving people council-funded holiday time because nothing tangible is coming out of this. It is just sheer waste of resources.”

Repeated efforts to get a comment from Mr Chafesuka were fruitless as he was said to be in meetings.

However, during Wednesday’s full council meeting at the Civic Centre, Mutare mayor — Councillor Blessing Tandi — came out guns blazing, demanding a formal report from management over the issue.

Cllr Tandi accused the management of leaking confidential information to the public. “I saw a report or a comment that circulated on the social media stating that councillors demanded suits for the ZITF. I assume from the reading that this message came from management.

“This is not the first time information has leaked from this chamber to the streets. It happened again when we went to Masvingo for a strategic workshop.

When we came back I requested for a report on how that information leaked. I understand the majority of us signed the Secrecy Act.

“For the benefit of the Fourth Estate (media) here present, if you may want to report on it, let it be clear that no councillor ever requested for any clothing from council.

“My plea to my fellow councillors and administrators here is that we need a report on that. We need to know who wrote that, whythey wrote it and to whom were they writing,” fumed the mayor.

Councillor Tandi admitted that there was “a lot of rot” within the local authority.

“I have realised that there is no problem out there, but right here. There is lot of rot that is happening in this chamber,” thundered Cllr Tandi. Manica Post

 

 

0 comments:

Post a Comment