Ucaz executive in alleged $233 000 fraud

HARARE - Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe (Ucaz) executive has suspended its secretary-general Francis Duri over allegations of fraud involving over $233 000 plus 1 000 euros.

Duri is alleged to have diverted donor funds allocated for various projects as well as defrauding his employer through double dipping on allowances.

Harare mayor Muchadeyi Masunda said the decision to suspend Duri arose from the initial findings of a forensic audit report that was undertaken by KLM Chartered Accountants, following alleged mismanagement of funds from membership subscriptions and development partners.

“I must make it very clear right at the outset that the decision to suspend Perkins Francis Duri, the secretary-general-cum-executive director of Ucaz, was collectively made by 32 urban local authorities which are the constituent members of Ucaz at a duly-constituted executive committee meeting,” Masunda told the Daily News.

“It is incumbent on everyone especially us in leadership positions to have zero tolerance for corruption and to leave no stone unturned in our quest to flush out corrupt tendencies, without fear or favour, wherever and whenever they manifest themselves.”

Masunda said the meeting took place at the City Hall in Bulawayo on April 25, on the sidelines of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair.

According the mayor, the body also sought legal opinion from Chihambakwe, Mutizwa & Partners law firm on the contents of the KLM forensic audit report.

Masunda, however, implored Ucaz “as a democratically elected organisation” to give Duri a fair hearing.

“In this regard, Alderman Femius Foroma Jacob Chakabuda, the mayor of Masvingo and also president of Ucaz, is spearheading a team that will put together a broad-based and balanced panel which will deal with Mr Duri’s case,” he said.

Chakabuda confirmed convening a meeting but said it was just a regular one. “The report was discussed and rejected because it was hogwash. It had false figures and information so no one was suspended. These falsehoods are being spread by people with failed agendas,” said Chakabuda.

Chakabuda said Duri was not suspended.

When contacted for comment, Duri said he was not aware of the suspension but only the report.

“I am aware of the report but not the suspension,” he said.

Harare deputy mayor Emmanuel Chiroto also chaired the forensic audit subcommittee.

According to sources, a three-member tribunal is set to take the issue forward including instituting legal proceedings.

Currently, the European Union, as one of Ucaz’s major donors, is said to be conducting its own audit, a development that could shrink the association’s sources of funding. - Wendy Muperi

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