Fired Chi-Town councillors fight back

HARARE - Fired Chitungwiza Municipality councillors have argued that their dismissal was illegal, accusing Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere of using an unsanctioned audit report to nail them.

Last month, Kasukuwere sacked the town’s 25 councillors after they were implicated in corruption, among other rogue deals, in the audit conducted by the local authority.

So far, 13 of the councillors have written to Kasukuwere — through their lawyer Marufu Mandevere — challenging his decision to fire them.

Chitungwiza mayor Phillip Mutoti, who was part of those who were fired, said that the audit report used by Kasukuwere to expel him and others did not relate to Chitungwiza Municipality.

“Therefore, the audit report that you rely on is not from council. Our client was surprised to hear of the audit report on radio even before Section 307 . . . was complied with. With great respect, the audit report you rely on is a nullity,” said the May 8 letter.

“There are several internal audit reports which purportedly emanate from the so-called internal audit, none of which were ever approved by council to make them official.”

The letter said the suspensions were illegal and should be lifted forthwith.

“The audit is yet to pass the audit committee stage and it is therefore not an official Chitungwiza Municipality Internal Audit Report. As it stands, there is no internal audit to talk about. Our client is surprised by this turn of events. The audit report is for council. How it jumped council to you is surprising,” the councillors’ lawyer said, adding that the expulsions were “malicious and unlawful”.

This comes after MDC organising secretary for Chitungwiza Rangarirai Mutingwende claimed Kasukuwere’s move was a part of a bigger plot to enable him to investigate Town Clerk George Makunde, whom he accused of abusing office by deploying council vehicles to ferry people to a demonstration against him in Bindura.

Mutoti’s lawyer said that as far as his client is concerned, the “so-called audit report is just a piece of paper worth nothing”.

“By suspending our client on the basis of an unofficial audit report, you have acted on the basis of a nullity, which renders the whole exercise nothing but a charade,” reads the letter.

In all the letters, the councillors discredited the allegations levelled against them, further demanding that they be allowed to resume work.

Just like the other expelled councillors, Mutoti told Kasukuwere that a stand that he is accused of having grabbed was part of his conditions of service, adding that he had no power to deal with land barons as this was the duty of the town clerk.

The current developments are taking place amid reports of massive stands scams that were reportedly taking place in Chitungwiza, with claims that officials allocated themselves large tracts of land for personal benefit, thereby prejudicing the cash-strapped local authority of millions of dollars in potential revenue.

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