Byo NGO calls for Chombo probe

BULAWAYO - The Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (Bpra) has waded into the controversial Harare City Council saga calling for an investigation to be carried out in the operations of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing minister, Ignatius Chombo.

Bpra’s reaction follows Chombo’s arbitrary decision to reinstate suspended town clerk Tendai Mahachi.

Harare Mayor Bernard Manyenyeni suspended Mahachi last week pending investigations into allegations of failing to discharge his duties and furnishing council with the salary schedule for council bosses at Town House.

In solidarity with other concerned voices such as the Combined Harare Residents Association (Chra) who have questioned Chombo’s decision, Bulawayo residents said his intervention into a  purely administrative issue  was ill-advised and an impediment in the fight against corruption in the country.

Harare resident’s representatives have threatened to boycott paying rates if the Harare City Council fails to avail top management salaries within seven days.

“We were dismayed to learn that minister Chombo had reversed a move by the City of Harare to suspend Mahachi. He was suspended after it emerged last week that he was earning $37 000 a month at a time when service delivery in Harare is at its worst with the quality of water in the city condemned,” Bpra advocacy and programmes manager Emmanuel Ndlovu said.

He said Mahachi’s suspension was justified as it was a huge step in curbing corruption in the local authorities.

“As a stakeholder in local governance, Bpra was appalled by minister Chombo’s move, which we believe was a blow to justice and an endorsement of the outrageous salary that Mahachi was pocketing,” he said.

Ndlovu said Bpra views the move as suspicious given that Chombo has in the past been in the limelight for the wrong reasons.

“In 2011 it emerged that minister Chombo owns vast properties — residential stands, commercial stands, farms, farming equipment and vehicles — across the country.

At the time, a large cross section of society, including Bpra, bemoaned Chombo’s vast wealth and called for him to be investigated to ascertain how he acquired his assets on a ministerial salary. To date no such investigations have taken place,” he added.

Bpra also called for an inquiry to be conducted in a bid to ascertain how Chombo amassed his wealth.

The civic organisation also argues that Chombo should be investigated to establish his motive in rescinding the suspension of Mahachi who stands accused of the grave crime of abusing his office to enrich himself, Ndlovu said.

“It is Bpras conviction that until such investigations are undertaken, minister Chombo lacks the credibility to intervene in situations where allegations of corruption are made against stakeholders in the local governance sector,” he added.

Bpra urged the parliamentary portfolio committee on local governance to institute an independent probe into the salary structures of local authorities in the country to ensure that executives are not enriching themselves at the expense of service delivery and the well-being of residents.

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