'Failure to pay workers fuelled Chitungwiza corruption'

HARARE - Failure by the Chitungwiza Municipality to pay its employees forced them to dabble in illicit land deals with land barons, a probe report has concluded.

A report by a team appointed by Ignatius Chombo, the Local Government minister, to investigate illegal land sales, allocations, development and usage; reveals that council employees who have gone for a year without pay, resorted to unsanctioned connection of illegal beneficiaries to municipal water and sewer systems.

To augment the part payments they received from their employer, the employees would also act as sales representatives for land barons, selling stands for them for a commission.

“The municipality has been failing to meet monthly salaries for its employees which saw the latter going for up to 11 months without the same as depicted by the accruing salary arrears,” the report says.

“Given this phenomenon, lack of motivation among staff members has caused them to embark in corrupt activities such as illegal land sales.”

The investigating team also established that the managerial structure of the municipality was weak and lacked interdepartmental coordination which provided fertile grounds for graft by management, councillors as well as employees.

It was also established by the audit team that there were no substantive heads for critical areas such as the housing, community services and audit departments.

“Poor coordination between departments has exposed the municipality to abuse by management, councillors and employees at all levels,” the report says.

“The town clerk (George Makunde) is not hands-on as realised by his lack of control over the management and has not made an effort to implement past audit recommendations leaving the municipality like a ship without a captain.”

Makunde has however indicated that the local authority was committed to restoring order in the dormitory town.

“Everything is in place, the housing policy is there; it is simply a question of adoption to solve the problem,” he said.

“The paperwork for the director of housing is with the minister. I was very much aware that the report was going to come out like this.

“We will be able to deal with the culprits because we simply make recommendations for the police to take over.”

The report established that more than 14 000 residential stands allocated to home seekers in Chitungwiza and Manyame Rural District Council were illegal and the structures built on them should be demolished.

Of these, 8 260 stands are in Chitungwiza, while 6 200 are in Seke communal lands under Manyame Rural District Council.

They were allocated on land earmarked for other purposes. Some of the stands were created on spaces reserved for clinics, churches, schools, cemeteries, recreational activities and roads, while others were created under high voltage electricity pylons.

In Seke rural, some people were allocated stands on grazing lands, wetlands, and other lands not suitable for housing.

The audit team recommended the arrest and prosecution of land barons who are mainly housing co-operatives, councillors and village heads who were behind the corruption.

United We Stand Multi-Purpose Co-operative, run by suspended Zanu PF councillor Frederick Mabamba and other influential people in Chitungwiza, was singled out as the chief land baron both in Chitungwiza and Seke.

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