Patrick Chitumba Midlands Bureau Chief
THE three-member commission running the affairs of the City of Gweru is caught up in a corruption storm with residents petitioning the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Cde Saviour Kasukuwere, to launch an investigation into alleged looting of funds.
The residents claimed the commission led by Tsunga Mhangami was allegedly milking the cash strapped local authority, blowing more than $100,000 in travel and subsistence allowances and over 5,000 litres of fuel in less than four months.
Mhangami yesterday said he had not seen the petition and dismissed the residents’ claims.
“There are elements that are against the work of the commission and we will do our best to bring sanity to this town,” he said.
In their petition to Minister Kasukuwere, the residents alleged that the commissioners were paying themselves outrageous allowances in violation of the Ministerial directive of October 16, last year directing that they should get $450 per week to cover accommodation and food.
They alleged that the commissioners were each spending $1,300 per week translating to $6,000 each per month against a government directive that the chairperson of the commission gets $3,000 per month while his commissioners get $2,000.
The residents also claimed that the commissioners were getting 80 litres of fuel per week which has seen them getting a combined 5,000 litres of fuel since October last year.
“To make matters worse, the caretaker (commission) claim subsistence for six nights and seven days per week and yet they come early Mondays and leave Gweru late Fridays which is four nights and five days. They are therefore misappropriating residents’ funds equivalent to two nights and two days which is $1,500 per week translating to $33,000 from the date they assumed office,” reads part of the petition signed by chairperson of the Gweru Residents and Ratepayers Association Cornelius Selipiwe.
“Investigations carried out revealed this and can be verified at the toll gates. For example, Mhangami is seen on several occasions leaving council offices soon after lunch going to Masvingo. Furthermore, during the first week of October 2015, Commissioner Chamunorwa Parenyi spent the whole week in Harare but never refunded the claimed allowances.”
The residents urged Cde Kasukuwere to investigate the alleged fraud and embezzlement of funds by the commissioners.
They said those found guilty should be dealt with without fear or favour.
“Honourable minister, does this not also constitute acts of misconduct that led to the suspension of the mayor and councillors? Minister all this is happening when employees are still suffering and are now six months in arrears.
“There are no remittances to statutory bodies like NSSA or medical aid. The commissioners have gobbled in excess of $100,000 plus over 5,000 litres of fuel,” reads part of the petition.
Cde Kasukuwere could not be reached for comment on the matter.