Scribes call for accountability in govt

HARARE - Journalists have demanded that ministers and top management in government boards be made accountable on how they handle public funds.

Media practitioners attending a parliamentary workshop in  Nyanga organised by the Parliamentary portfolio committee on Public  Accounts, last week  took Clerk of Parliament, Austin Zvoma, to task  demanding  public Parliamentary hearings.

Journalists said they wanted good governance and accountability from the ministers rather than to have them misinforming the nation on matters of national importance.

Two issues that were highlighted were the Community Share ownership Trust Schemes that are being administered by the ministry of Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment under Francis Nhema and the Harare City Council’s (HCC) abuse of the $144 million loan from China.

Allegations are that Harare council officials used $2 million from the facility to buy themselves luxury vehicles at the expense of refurbishing the capital city’s water facilities.

The journalists asked Zvoma to summon HCC management to explain the deal.

“We want them to account for the money they are using and we are hearing a lot of stories of corruption over the loan from China as some of the managers bought expensive vehicles,” said one media practitioner.

Zvoma said Parliament had tried its best to summon public officials to hearings because they were not going act on hearsay.

“You need to understand the matter before you start making allegations about the City council senior management’s terms of working conditions,” said Zvoma.

Town Clerk,  Tendai Mahachi purportedly received a Range Rover Vogue while engineers Christopher Zvobgo and Phillip Pfukwa are said to have received Land Rover Discovery 4x4’s each.

Other vehicles involved in the scam include Ford Rangers, Toyota and Isuzu twin cabs which top personnel received according to their preferences.

Local government minister Ignatius Chombo has defended the city fathers’ purchasing of the vehicles using the Exim loan.

Harare City is undertaking a major water project to revamp the water treatment plant at Morton  Jaffrey Water Works which will be  completed in April next year to  enable the city to provide clean and reliable water to its residents and to dormitory towns of Ruwa, Chitungwiza and Norton.

The city fathers have since appeared before the Parliament committee on Environment, Water, Tourism and Hospitality Industry portfolio committee chaired by Anastasia Ndlovu, a Zanu PF legislator.

Acting Town clerk, Josephine Ncube and Zvobgo, the Director of Water were told that Harare residents were not amused with the acquisition of the vehicles but Ncube said council was justified in making the purchases.

Journalists also accused Zvoma of  using his powers to block former minister of Indigenisation, Savior Kasukuwere from appearing before a Parliament committee on indigenisation to give evidence on the Community Share Ownership Trust Scheme.

“We want to know why minister Kasukuwere did not appear before the Parliamentary portfolio committee to explain what has happened to the money that he claimed was donated by mining companies  to the communities they are operating in.

“We have a lot of conflicting statements from Francis Nhema, the minister of Indigenisation on that issue,” said Chris Mhike who is  a lawyer and  journalist.

Zvoma defended Kasukuwere non-appearance to the committee chaired by Zanu PF MP Mayor Wadyajena arguing that it is not a court of law.

“I don’t know what crime Kasukuwere committed and he is no longer a minister of Indigenisation and he cannot answer questions on Indigenisation,” said Zvoma.

He said Kasukuwere had no mandate to speak on indigenisation.

“His tenure as minister of Indigenisation ended when he was sworn in as a new minister for another ministry. Once your tenure as a minister is up, you are no longer competent to speak on that ministry’s operations.

“You can read section 104 and 108 of the constitution and see on how I arrived on my decision and the role of ministers,” said Zvoma.

He said Kasukuwere was being irresponsible to claim that he had details on how much money was contributed.

“He was very irresponsible to make such a statement as it is no longer his portfolio. This is why we could not allow him to give evidence” said Zvoma.

Mhike objected citing the example of Obert Mpofu, the former minister of Mines who is before the courts as a State witness in the trial of Dominic Mubaiwa and Lovemore Kurotwi.

The journalists said they were still waiting for a public hearing featuring Kasukuwere to clarify on the matter as minister Nhema continuously says he has not seen any documentation on the funds from the mining companies to support the Community Share Ownership Trust Scheme.

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