'Chombo covering up corruption'

HARARE - The recent reinstatement of Harare city’s town clerk, Tendai Mahachi by Local Government, Public Works minister Ignatius Chombo has been met with anger and disappointment from social and political commentators who believe it smacks of a cover-up.

Mahachi was last week suspended for three months to pave way for investigations into the council’s salary schedules as 18 directors at the council were earning over $500 000 each month.

Media and social commentator Rashweat Mukundu said: “So far what we have are media reports on the corruption and no concrete action to root out corruption.

“The lifting of the town clerk corruption case and the non-prosecution of the corrupt is indeed a lethargic approach to dealing with corruption.

“There is no political will since even those who must take corrective measures and prosecute are part of the same system.

“It is like asking a gang of thieves to arrest each other.”

Activist Tabani Moyo said the government must firstly be seen to be acting against social and economic ills that inflicts the society, in this case the “massive salaries” scales being pocketed by public servants.

“The approaches being taken seem to be that of ‘proceeding with caution’ as if to say in a way there is something bigger than that which meets the eye — that there are ‘big boys’ in the government behind the salary gate.

“If there was no bigger tide behind the salary gate, the culprits that have been enjoying the taxpayers and rate payers’ funds will be investigated for syndicated crimes, that have a danger of destabilising due to the opportunity costs for service delivery and nation building,” said Moyo.

He said what the salary-gate has brought since it erupted into public space is that it is no longer what meets the eye that matters, but the people behind the scandals.

“What the media should go for is who is making it difficult for the country to recover the ‘stolen’ revenue?

“Who has fingers dipped into the filthy pockets of the so-called civil servants? Why are the culprits still at large?

“Those are the key questions that deserve answers today for the nation solve this cancer,” said Moyo.

Social and political commentator Rejoice Ngwenya said in a free market economy, and a constitutional democracy, salaries — whether private or public — must be determined by the forces of demand and supply.

“The reason behind Zimbabwe’s distorted or obscene salary scales is mainly due to a lesser extent scarcity of professional labour and to a great extent corruption, patronage and cronyism.

“The Zanu PF government is dismal at constitutionalism, that is why they ignore good Parliamentary counsel, abuse the law and appoint cronies to head state bodies.

“ More importantly, state bodies are not supposed to be doing business, but because Zanu PF wants to benefit from patronage, they appoint crony boards and in turn these boards appoint compliant CEOs whom they pay anything.

“As long as Zanu PF is in power, we can only dream of an end to corruption. Zanu PF is to blame for all this. Johannes Tomana ‘reports’ to Zanu PF, so he cannot prosecute their proxies,” said Ngwenya.

He said some town clerks pay homage to Chombo because he wants them to submit to his authority.

“The MDC-led councils have also proved to be corrupt, so they do not exercise effective oversight on council management.

“ All salaries are approved by council and the relevant ministry and so ‘firing’ anyone on account of salaries without impeaching Chombo is an exercise in futility.

“Chombo is merely asserting his skewed ministerial functions while Mahachi is simply proving who he reports to.

“If MDCs, Zapu and MKD had managed to dislodge Zanu PF from power, a full audit would have been possible and our country would rid itself of these toxic practices.

“As it is, we are going to share meals with Lucifer until Michael has mercy on us.”

Legislator Jessie Fungayi Majome said what Chombo has done directly undermines Zimbabwe’s founding values and principles in Section 3 and Section 5 of the new Zimbabwe Constitution, that ideals with good governance, meaning transparency, justice, accountability,  responsiveness, and devolution of power.

The new Constitution aims particularly to “give powers of local governance to the people and enhance their participation in the exercise of powers of the State and in making decisions affecting them.”

Majome said she hears the sound of Chombo smashing the hopes of Harare residents and ratepayers for probity, transparency and good governance.  “Chombo is the Godfather of corruption — he is just doing what he has always done best — before, during and after the inclusive government,” she said.

Harare Residents Trust, (HRT) director Precious Shumba said they expect the mayor of Harare and his council to stick to the Urban Councils Act when dealing with this reinstatement, and they should also seriously tackle it from a labour perspective.

“What we in the HRT fail to see is the relevance of Chombo’s directive, because we hoped that the Harare City Council would work with the Local Government Board, using the Labour Relations Act (Chapter 28.01), and not for them to elevate minister Chombo to be the direct employer of the town clerk, because the residents and the council are the employers in this matter.” Shumba said Chombo should withhold his open support for incompetence and massive abuse of authority and power at Town House, because this will backfire on the government of the day.

“In my view Chombo is taking this at a personal and political level, which is retrogressive and counterproductive.

“If the mayor of Harare and his council, who are the employers in terms of the law have found the employee to be under-performing, why is the minister attempting to interfere with an internal disciplinary process which has not yet concluded that Mahachi is at fault, but is being suspected of mismanagement and failure to discharge a public mandate.

“Let the law be respected because Chombo is destroying the credibility of the President by playing the spoiler in the fight against elite corruption and massive looting of public finances by executives in the city of Harare.

“In interim, the HRT is fully behind the mayor and his council for sending the correct message to looters at Town House that their days are numbered. The residents are watching and will respond accordingly.

“Corruption is being allowed to permeate all the structures of the government by individual cabinet ministers and government officials who stand to lose out if transparency and accountability is restored in local authorities and State institutions.” Shumba added that the obscene salaries’ can only be blamed on the government, which has officials heavily involved in land, housing and tender deals with senior council officials where they personally benefit, while the government is viewed negatively and as a total failure.

“It is time that the government institutes a wholesale change of its system of evaluating performance of its senior executives and monitoring their work ethic, rather than for corrupt government officials to create pores within the system in order to loot and loot, without any reprieve in sight.

“The performances of parastatals where there are reports of massive looting through payment of obscene salaries are directly linked to the vested interests of the Cabinet minister responsible for that parastatal.

The Acts of Parliament dealing with the parastatals have to be reviewed and amended to strengthen the hand of citizens in the administration of public entities.

“Benefits to ministers come through favouritism in the awarding of tenders to companies linked to them, or owned by people who are either related or connected to them, politically and financially.”

Playwright Leonard Matsa said the tragedy of Zimbabwe is that everything has been sadly reduced to politics.

“And politics of survival to be precise. It is now clear to all that this staged-managed cleansing process will go and be as broad and effective as allowed by the politics that created it and that it was designed to serve.

“In the process national attention and blame has been effectively refocused to these small fish.

“They call it ‘misdirection in magic!”

Comments (8)

Let us take to the streets to demostrate Zimbabweans and I don't think Mugabe will set his army/police on people demostrating against corruption. It's an opportunity Zimbabwe to show that power is people and the people is power. It will be a shame for Mugabe to protect those people killing the nation. Demostrate Zimbabweans. Demostrate. Let us not just cry without action.

Ziziharinanyanga - 5 February 2014

Its high time indeed that we should all go into the streets and demand that these people be prosecuted..

paurosi - 6 February 2014

vanhu vemuzimbwabwe mese murimarabishi you must all get arrested how can someone gets a million $ per month when you claim to be under sanctions . MR Commander in chief lets have Salary controls.Your economy no one must get salary above $8000 in zimbabwe whether CEO or or any minister.look your civil servents including your educated perm secretary they get $500 less than$1000 thus reasoble amount for that economy. Mr comander in chief musanyegerere munhu wether its e palastatal or municipality dzingai imbwa dzese masalaries ngaaenderane ne economy yenyika yedu. vanhu varikutambura .vanoda mari idzodzo ngavaende ku America vandopiwe mari idzodzo. Munyika yamai Gushungo apa tinoda Kuona simba renyu chairo chairo nekuti apa paita vasveta simba

DOFO - 6 February 2014

Chombo is the most corrupt minister in the post independent Zimbabwe just look at the ex[osed amassed properties he has through out the country.This were acquired corrupt. honestly the beautiful ones are yet to be born in our beloved country.To restore confidence the head has to act decisively lest he leaves the worst legacy.

Aluta continua - 6 February 2014

Now is the time for MDC to galvanize the masses against Corruption. Seize this moment guys and lead people into demonstrations. Chekumirira hapana .

Mupinyu Wasvotoka - 6 February 2014

Where is the President as looters continue to be protected?

Maita Manyuka - 6 February 2014

even the president himself is corrupt and a looter

bigman - 6 February 2014

Chombo nguva yako ichasvika. You will never escape this rot forever. You gonna run to the rocks butthe rocks will be melting and when you run to the sea it will be boiling. Mark my words

Felix - 10 February 2014

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.