Chombo probe teams drain council

HARARE - Harare City Council has lost more than $100 000 in less than four months to two investigating teams set up by Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo, the Daily News on Sunday can reveal.

The money paid out to the probe teams is enough to buy three refuse collection trucks that could ease the city’s mounting garbage woes.

In less than four months, Chombo has set up two different teams to probe Harare on the same matter of tenders.

Chombo has also been recycling some members of the investigating teams.

Well-placed sources revealed to the Daily News on Sunday that council has been forced to pay at least $5 000 to each member of the first probe team headed by director of civil protection Madzudzo Pawadyira and deputised by former Masvingo town clerk Tsungai Mhangami.

Other members of the team included Florence Ziyambi from the Attorney-General’s office, Environmental Management Agency (Ema) director, Petronella Shoko, State Procurement Board member, Patrick Mushonga, Albert Wakandigara, a consultant on hazardous substances and Comedy Piti, a mining inspector.

The team led to the suspension of Warren Park councillor, Julias Musevenzi, who was the procurement board chairperson for council.

A month later, Chombo assembled another team headed by Ellen Chivaviro, the finance and administration director at Tel-One.

She is deputised by Ziyambi.

Other members of the team include Jabulani Nyoni, Shingai Ndoro, Charity Nyambira, Joramu Mumbwandarika, Enock Magaisa and Taurai Maja.

Sources at the council revealed this team is being paid daily allowances ranging from $200 to $450 on top of weekly fuel allowances.

The team was supposed to have finished its work by month-end, but is still camped at Town House.

Some of the members on the second team have previously featured in other investigating teams set up by Chombo in other local authorities, particulary in Chitungwiza.

But Chombo refused to divulge how much he had recommended for the team’s stay in the dormitory town east of Harare.

Maja has been on several probe teams, including the group that investigated Bindura Town Council and were paid not less than $5 000 each.

This is not the first time Harare City Council has been made to pay huge amounts to teams set up by Chombo. In 2010, council paid $39 000 to a probe team led by one Kwenda, which was investigating allegations of corruption on the part of councillors. Harare mayor Muchadeyi Masunda said council refused to pay the other teams that followed the Kwenda group — which had demanded $114 000 for investigating the council.

This team was headed by Andrew Makoni.

Between the Kwenda team and the Makoni group, Chombo appointed another team headed by Christopher Shumba, the provincial administrator for Mashonaland West Province. According to Masunda, the team comprised mainly of civil servants but demanded $42 000, with Shumba saying he wanted $7 000 and then $5 000 each for the rest of the team.

But Masunda said he stood his ground and refused to pay.

“We also refused to pay them because we felt that these are just civil servants who should not be paid for their jobs. Because they did these investigations as part of their job,” said Masunda.

Chombo had not responded to questions sent to his office last week. - Xolisani Ncube

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