77 Days of Inaction Against Corruption in Gokwe

Today, the 18th of November 2019, the Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa (ACT-SA) is counting 77 days of inaction against alleged corruption by the Gokwe Town Council (GTC). The following offices were duly served with the report but did not take any action:

  1. The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC); 5 Golda Avenue, Strathaven, Harare, Telephone: (024) 2307065 / 66 / 67 2307090, E-mail: zimbabweanticorruption@gmail.com
  2. The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP); Cnr 7th Street and J. Chinamano Avenue, Harare, Tel: (0242) 700171, E-mail: feedback@zrp.gov.zw
  3. Hon. Larry Mavima, the Minister of State for Provincial Affairs, 10th Street, Government Complex, 2nd Floor, Gweru.
  4. The DCIO Gokwe South, c/o ZRP, Kwekwe Central Police Station, Kwekwe;
  5. The Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing (MoLPWNH);Cnr Leopold Takawira and Herbert Chitepo, Bag 7755 Causeway, Harare 263 242 – 756521, 71, E-mail: communications@mlg.gov.zw
  6. The Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC); Corner Samora Machel Ave and Sam Nujoma, Harare, Zimbabwe. E-mail: info@opc.gov.zw, Tel: +263 24 2707091/7
  7. The Office of the Auditor General, 5th Floor, Burroughs House Cnr Fourth Street / George Silundika Avenue, P. O. Box CY 143 Causeway, Harare: E-mail: ocag@auditgen.gov.zw; Telephone: 263 242 793611/3-4/762817/8/20-23
  8. The Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (PRAZ), Old Reserve Bank Building 76 Samora Machel Ave P.O. Box CY408 Causeway Harare: Zimbabwe, Email: feedback@praz.org.zw
  9. The Provincial Administrator, 10th Street, Government Complex, 2nd Floor, Gweru.
  10. Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe (UCAZ), 30 Samora Machel Ave, Insurance House First Floor, Harare Zimbabwe, E-mail: ucaz@ucaz.org
  11. Gokwe Town Council Councillors, Civic Centre, Gokwe
  12. Minister of Local Government and National Housing (Minister July Moyo)

Instead, the officials in the employ of the Gokwe Town Council were quoted boasting that no action will be taken since they are well connected. Silence from these respective authorities may mean a lack of interest in anti-corruption.

In addition to boasting, there was a well-calculated effort by those implicated in corruption within the rank and file of the local authority to ‘witch hunt’ and punish all those accused of having leaked information to the researchers. The onslaught has been done with impunity.

The attached report made the following findings:

  1. On or about 2011/2, the local authority paid US$23,000 for a brand-new Nissan NP300, which has never been delivered to date. In the process, the local authority suffered financial loss to the tune of US$23,000;
  2. It is alleged that the current Town Secretary was imposed regardless of having failed (came fourth) the interviews conducted for that position and also not having relevant qualifications. When ahigh-profile individual from the Headquarters of the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing discovered that the current Town Secretary had not applied, she allegedly demanded the post to be re-advertised, which was done. Complainants stated that the same individual from the Ministry indicated that she was going to tell the current Secretary to apply since the post was meant for her. Furthermore, before the interviews, members of the Panel were coached by the then Chairperson of the Town Council to give her more marks.
  3. The Town Secretary was allegedly paid a salary and allowances for December 2014, when she only started work on the 5th of January 2015. Protests at the district level did not help to stop her from enriching herself. Complainants have proof of the payments made.
  4. There is rampant corruption on the awarding of tenders. This allegedly favours family members, friends and compatriots. For instance, the tender for the supply curtains for the Town House did not only violate tender regulations but was awarded to a relative who was staying in the same house with the Town Secretary at the time of the award. In addition, in May 2019, the tender for catering services for a benchmarking exercise was either awarded to someone linked the District Administrator or it was allegedly awarded to the District Administrator using someone else’s name. The attached report explains in much more detail why there is this suspicion. Documentary evidence is available.
  5. The local authority allegedly bought a Chevrolet vehicle for the Town Secretary for US$58,000 when there were other bidders who had charged much less. For instance, there was a bidder who had allegedly quoted US$51,000. Considering financial constraints besetting the local authority, it would have saved US$8,000. It is not clear why the local authority opted for a more expensive option.
  6. The local authority allegedly bought a second hand and accident damaged Toyota D4D for a price that exceeded, the price of a brand new one taking into consideration the repairs made on the same.
  7. It was further alleged that the Town Secretary owns more than one stand in the Kambasha low density suburb (Stands Number155 and 156) in contravention of council policies.
  8. Senior managers at the local authority violate internal policies with impunity. For instance, one of the managers allegedly gave a council Foton vehicle to his/her child and was involved in an accident. The accident report was kept a top secret to date.
  9. The Local authority by-laws are not enforced uniformly. Those perceived as critical of service delivery at the local authority, especially members of residents’ associations, allegedly pay more penalties for committing certain offences than others.
  10. There is lack of transparency in the administration of donations. For instance, a donation of US$8,000 from the Department of Parks and Wildlife, donation from Zinara as well as donation of a fire fighter from one Mr. Lobels. These were singled out for more investigations.
  11. Councillors discovered that the local authority had a secret US Dollar Nostro Bank Account, 01721387410218which was not sanctioned by policymakers (Councillors). Money deposited and withdrawn from the account remains a top secret.

The following recommendations were made, and these are encapsulated in the report:

1. Forensic audit of the Gokwe Town Council. It is alleged that the local authority has been resisting an audit for a long time.An investigation into corruption in the recruitment of the Town Secretary.

2. This should include an investigation of individuals based at the parent ministry and the former Chairperson who was accused of coaching members of the panel

3. If it is true that the Town Secretary received a salary and allowance for the month of December 2014, when she only started work on the 5th of January 2015, the money should be refunded to the local authority.

4. An investigation of tenders for the supply of curtains to the Town House as well as catering services for the May 2019 benchmarking exercise. The mention of the DA’s name should be investigated.

5. An investigation into the payment of US$23,000 for a Nissan NP300 vehicle which was never delivered since on or about 2011/2 to date.

6. An investigation into the allocation of stands in the town. Stands allocated to individuals in positions of authority should be investigated.

7. Action to avert lack of uniformity in penalties for the same offences.

8. The Ministry of Local Government should urgently consider the establishment and introduction of an Internal Anti-corruption policies for local authorities.

9. A significant number of individuals interviewed demanded that the following officials should be invited to answer the following allegations levelled against them:

i. The Human Resource Director (Erica Johns) in the employ of the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing should answer the following questions:

  • The allegation that she facilitated the recruitment of Melania Mandeya as the Town Secretary, especially that she demanded that the post be re-advertised and that she was going to alert Melania Mandeya to apply.

ii. The former Chairperson of the Gokwe Town Council (E. Senga) should answer the following allegations levelled against her:

  • The allegation that she coached the panel to score more marks for Melania Mandeya;
  • The allegation that she rushed to offer employment to Melania Mandeya before approval by the Local Government Board.

iii. The Town Secretary’s Office should answer the following allegations:

  • Allegations that the Town Secretary was paid a salary and allowances for December 2014 when she only started work on the 5th of January 2015.
  • Allegation that she awarded a tender for curtaining the Town house to a relative she was staying with and also that the tender was awarded in violation of tender procedures.
  • Allegation that she recruited relatives at the Town Council, referring to the case of one Tatenda Nyika and the person who provided curtains to the Town house, among others.
  • Allegation that the local authority diverted money from Zinara and ended up paying for road work services that should have been paid from the Zinara donation with stands.
  • That there was financial loss in the acquisition of the Town Secretary’s Chevrolet vehicle Registration Number AEF 2600.
  • That the price of the Mazda BT50 may have been inflated thereby causing financial loss to the local authority.
  • That a Toyota D4D was acquired in violation of a council resolution thereby causing financial loss to the local authority.
  • That the Town Secretary allegedly gave herself two stands (Numbers 155 and 156) in the Kambasha area in violation of council policies.
  • That the Toyota D4D was disposed of, in violation of council policies.
  • That the Nostro Account Number 01721387410218 was opened without council approval and there is no accountability on how much money has been deposited and withdrawn from the account.
  • That there are two transport policies that are causing confusion at the local authority.
  • That there is lack of uniformity in the enforcement of policies for the local authority such as penalties for operating without licences and/or medical certificates;

iv. The Director of Finance at the Gokwe Town Council should answer the following allegations:

  • Allegation that he gave the local authority Foton Vehicle to his child to drive in violation of the council policies;
  • Allegation that he confirmed that the NP300 was delivered but had problems with the keys though it was never seen in Gokwe.

v. The Acting District Administrator – Mr. Stewart Gwatirinda:

  • Explanation on why Irene Maheya who rendered catering services to the Gokwe Town Council paid $4,000 for his stand in the Kambasha area;
  • Explain the relationship between him and Irene Maheya.

10. A number of stakeholders interviewed suspect a corrupt relationship between Timber King (Pvt) Ltd t/a Big Valley Marketing and the Gokwe Town Council. There are allegations that the company has largely been given several tenders, including the supply of the NP300 which was never delivered. It was also involved in the supply of several other motor vehicles for the local authority. Questions were raised on why it was the only company chosen regardless of its alleged poor performance.

Residents, ratepayers and other special interest groups are willing to provide more information and support your good offices with investigations.

Whilst some of the issues are administrative, there are several others that constitutes corruption and hence this referral to your good offices.

Source: Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa (ACT-Southern Africa)

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