6 more Chi-Town councillors acquitted

HARARE - Six more Chitungwiza Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) councillors were acquitted on Monday after a Tribunal found them not guilty.

According to Marufu Mandevere, the city fathers’ lawyer, the Tribunal failed to prove that Chido Mangana, Darlington Musonza, Mavis Mazenge, Francis Mutambakutongwa, Musekiwa Ruzvidzo and Tichaona Muchakwa were guilty of any offence.

This comes as three other councillors Tendai Saimoni, Betty Jason Dokora and Wilfred Gwekwete were also acquitted last week.

Chitungwiza’s 25 suspended councillors were facing charges of abusing council funds, allocating themselves hefty allowances and unlawfully borrowing money from the council’s Estates Account without ministerial approval.

In the ruling that acquitted the councillors, the tribunal blamed former town clerk George Makunde for giving wrong advice to council during a meeting held on March 24, 2016.  The questions related to the legality of borrowing from the Estates account.

“The statement by the town clerk to the councillors during the meeting of March 24, 2016 was clearly wrong. Such a borrowing is prohibited by law, unless there is ministerial approval,” reads the ruling.

During Tribunal hearings, Mandevere accused acting chamber secretary Mary Mukonyori of ill-advising councillors to borrow from the account.

Mandevere said because the issue of allowances was to benefit the councillors, management did not approve yet they allowed councillors to borrow money from the account with former Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere’s approval.

“In respect to the Estates account, you went ahead without ministerial approval because you benefitted yet with the allowances you did not process them because they were not sanctioned. You cannot say councillors increased their allowances if the minister did not approve — they were not paid.

“I will forgive you because you said you are not a lawyer but if you were one  I would tell you that you are an immoral and unprofessional lawyer who abandons a client who has followed their legal advice. This is an offence that you as management committed,” Mandevere said.

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