Saviour Kasukuwere guns for Bulawayo mayor
BULAWAYO –Local Government Minister Saviour Kasukuwere has unleashed investigators to look into claims of impropriety in council in what is being seen as the build up towards the purging of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) dominated municipality.
The investigation has been spurred by claims of corruption by the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BUPRA) in the allocation of residential stands.
BURA has called for the prosecution of councillors found guilty of parcelling out vast tracts of land to themselves.
Last month, BUPRA petitioned Kasukuwere; the Minister of State for Provincial Affairs in Bulawayo, Nomthandazo Eunice Moyo and the National Assembly to investigate the city fathers for land deals which it said were suspicious.
The city has 100 000 residents on the waiting list for housing stands.
“Indications are that there is a clique of councillors amassing properties while others are not benefiting. There are also indications that companies affiliated to councillors have been awarded land and leases,” Rodrick Fayayo, the BUPRA co-ordinator said.
On Tuesday, Kasukuwere dispatched the probe team, saying he would “not sweep anything under the carpet”.
Bulawayo City Council is led by mayor Martin Moyo.
“The issue is when concerns are raised, I can’t sweep them under the carpet. So we have tasked engineer Hungwe to lead the team. I haven’t had a chance to speak to the Bulawayo mayor, but I will find some time to speak to him this week and we shall identify the issues.
Once the allegations are found true, we will have to take action and we will have no option,” said the ZANU-PF political commissar in an interview with the Financial Gazette.
Moyo said he was aware that an investigation team had been dispatched to Bulawayo and that his office would fully co-operate with the investigators.
“There is a team from local government sent to investigate and we would want to co-operate with them as fully as possible. We have not been suspended by the minister, so we will work alongside them [investigation team] and we will open our offices and they will be free to ask questions as we go along our business,” he said.
Moyo said he has no reason to suspect that the investigation could be a veiled political attempt to push him out of office.
“I don’t see it that way and I don’t think there are any sinister or ulterior motives. These rumours are emanating from BUPRA, so let them verify and check if there is any truth in them. I can’t speculate on what the future will be, but since the investigation is motivated by genuine and benign concerns, we have nothing to hide,” he said.
Until now, Bulawayo had been spared from Kasukuwere’s interference but that appears to be a thing of the past as he seeks to extend his grip to Bulawayo, the country’s second largest city which is reputed for being the best run local authority in the country.
The Gweru City Council and most recently the Harare City Council have both so far had conflict with Kasukuwere who has suspended the mayors from the two respective cities.
Hamutendi Kombayi, the Gweru mayor was suspended last month for alleged misappropriation of council funds alongside members of his executive.
The Bulawayo High Court, however, dismissed Kombayi’s suspension, but he still remains out of office after Kasukuwere declined to allow him back and appealed the High Court ruling.
Bernard Manyenyeni, the Harare mayor, was suspended last month for appointing James Mushore to the post of town clerk without the approval of the Local Government Board and Kasukuwere.
Kasukuwere has indicated that he would not hesitate to give marching orders to Moyo, should the team of seven investigators unearth anything that points to gross abuse of office by the city fathers.
According to section 278 of the Constitution, mayors, chairpersons and councillors can only be removed from office by an independent tribunal.
They can only be removed from office for inability to perform the functions of their office for a range of specific reasons which include mental or physical incapacity, gross incompetence, gross misconduct, conviction of an offence involving dishonesty, corruption, abuse of office and the wilful violation of the law.
Media reports suggest that Moyo may have fallen out with Kasukuwere over his resistance to award 20 000 housing stands to youths on grounds that the city was failing to clear its housing backlog.
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