HARARE – More arrests over corruption are imminent at Bulawayo City Council (BCC) and other local authorities following a series of investigations on land allocation and sales by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc).
Recently, the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works sent a probe team to Bulawayo to investigate graft allegations, including the unprocedural allocation of stands to councillors and senior council officials.
The drive to clean up local authorities has gathered momentum with high profile arrests.
Early this month, Zacc arrested Bulawayo City Council director of housing and community services, Dictor Khumalo on allegations of criminal abuse of duty as a public officer as defined in the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
Last month Harare town clerk Hosiah Chisango was arrested in connection with the continued unravelling of alleged illegal land deals that have rocked the city, while director of works Zvenyika Chawatama was suspended without pay as allegations of potential disciplinary offences were investigated.
Countrywide, it has also been observed that land sales are benefitting councillors, their families and handlers.
Corruption has been identified as one of the problems affecting the country’s economic growth which eventually leads to debt due to misappropriation of funds and resources.
Zimbabwe scored 24 points out of 100 on the 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index reported by Transparency International.
The index ranks countries and territories based on how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be.
A country’s score indicates the perceived level of public sector corruption on a scale of zero (highly corrupt) and 100 (very clean).
Zacc descended on the MDC-T run local authority in September after a whistle blower alleged corruption and malpractices in the municipality, particularly issues to do with allocation and sales of council land.
One of the cited cases involves Bulawayo mayor Councillor Solomon Mguni who was allocated a plot in Rangemore to the disgruntlement of many residents.
According to the notice flighted on May 29, the town clerk Christopher Dube revealed that Clr Mguni had been offered a land lease in Rangemore for agricultural purposes on Lot 3 of plot 3 Lower Rangemore.
The lease was for an initial 25-year period while monthly rentals were pegged at $165, subject to review.
Residents argued that the 25-year land lease being offered to Clr Mguni was tantamount to corruption and also accused council officials of abusing privileges and parceling out land to cronies at what they described as ridiculously low rentals.
The anti-graft team was also interested in the application by the mayor to construct duplex flats on stand number 19789 Bulawayo Township, which was eventually turned down by councillors.
Dube as well was being investigated after a proposed allocation of a stand to him ahead of the renewal of his employment contract as the city’s town clerk.
“Investigations are continuing in local authorities and we have gone very far in investigating corruption. Arrests are imminent in many local authorities including the Bulawayo City Council,” said Mr Makamure.
In an interview, Zacc spokesperson Commissioner Makamure said the probing is still ongoing but investigations done so far will result in some officials getting arrested.
“The probing has not yet come to an end and the issues where most officials have been wanting are mostly about land allocation.”
President Mnangagwa is on record saying the Government will continue investigating and clamping down on corruption as it continues to pursue goals to achieve Vision 2030 and removing impediments towards realisation of the objective.
He recently raised concern over the level of corruption in local authorities where public funds are converted to personal use, saying Government will not hesitate to punish councillors.
The President said under the Second Republic there was need to build a legacy of good governance, accountability and transparency for the prosperity of the country.
He added that councillors and council officials were key stakeholders in the country’s economic growth and attainment of Vision 2030 aimed at transforming Zimbabwe’s economy into an upper middle-income status.