Guruve Rural District Council: Corruption allegations escalate as council loses millions

/With only one day before the country’s ruling ZANU PF holds its primary elections aimed at selecting candidates to represent the party in the forthcoming 2018 harmonised elections, accusations of scandalous and corrupt activities levelled against the executive management of Guruve Rural District Council and some of its councillors have escalated, resulting in a lot of tension between concerned residents and the local authority, to include the District Administrator’s office.

A petition in possession of this reporter, having been leaked by a senior council official who decided to remain anonymous for security reasons, detail multifarious allegations of gross embezzlement of funds by public officials, both elected and appointed, who are said to have connived in a number of unclear and shoddy deals to fatten their pockets by squandering the scarce resources at the expense of improving service delivery to the community, which is already burdened with exorbitant rates and levies, in a shrinking economy.

In one case, council is alleged to have flouted tender procedures in February 2017 and proceeded to purchase a vehicle worthy US$41 000.00 using ZINARA public funds, from a bogus dealer who never delivered the vehicle despite the full amount having been paid. The petitioners are demanding to know why this unfortunate incident was kept a secret and fears that some insiders may have connived with outsiders to dupe ratepayers. Part of the petition read, “Immediately when they realised that they had been duped, they were supposed to report this to the police other than engaging their legal advisors for a deed of settlement. This is not a civil but a high profile criminal case”.

Regarding the allocation of stands, the petitioners impress that council has lost plus US$1.6 million in potential revenue due to the fraudulent and unprocedural allocation of stands to undeserving beneficiaries and further calls for thorough investigations by the relevant authorities. “More than 1000 stands were pegged on a block at the back of Guruve hospital but they were not parcelled out to the intended beneficiaries who were on the waiting list prejudicing the council of millions”, reads the petition.

The Chief Executive Officer Mr Marisa, who has had a past of corruption allegations, is said to be unilaterally subdividing stands meant for public purposes to include market stalls and bus terminuses and parcelling out them to himself and his friends, to include council officials and selling them to unsuspecting members of the public. A number of council employees who have in the past refused to work in cahoots with the CEO in such deals have been forced to resign, with the council chairperson Mr Kaswaurere abusing political power to protect the CEO. One of the cases in which Mr Marisa and friends accumulated 16 stands, stand numbers 2556-2572 in 2015 behind Guruve Hospital (Airstrip) is said to have been investigated by Mvurwi (Central Intelligence Department), however dockets were then closed in unclear circumstances.

In another worrying incident, the Executive Office Administrator and Human Resources Manager Mr Chikanya, is alleged to have allocated himself a stand for a pre-school without following tender procedures. “A stand that either belongs to a school or crèche must be put to tender if council want to parcel such land and if anyone who is not on the waiting list just goes to council and pay a paltry fee to get that stand, it becomes fraudulent”, argue the petitioners.

The residents-cum-petitioners are demanding accountability from the local authority on the raised issues to include a return of the US$41 000, 1000 pegged stands, clarification on procedures followed to allocate and sell stands, subdivision of land and an investigation aimed at cleansing of the council from corrupt public officials among other concerns.

About two (2) weeks ago, the petition which has accumulated over 200 signatures of residents resonating with the issues raised, was brought to the attention of the District Administrator Mr Shangwa who now stands accused by Guruve residents for politicising and acting in complicit with the local authority to suppress exposition of corrupt transactions, by making frantic efforts to frustrate, divide and silence the petitioners simply seeking for accountability, for reasons best known to him. This is despite commitments made by the president to deal with corruption at all levels and embrace a culture of openness and transparency, residents fear that he may have indicated right yet others turned left.

Cases of corruption are not new to the Guruve Rural District Council, as the local authority has had a history of corrupt allegations as evidenced by several reports from the countries Auditor-General. For instance Guruve RDC operated part of 2010 and the whole of 2011 without a substantive Treasurer, Internal Auditor and Administrator, a situation which gives room for abuse of public resources and negatively affects social services delivery. In 2013, the CEO, Executive Admin, Projects Officer and Council Chairperson appeared in court on allegations of defrauding Zinara.

Source: Concerned Guruve Residents

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