Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Reporter
NKAYI Rural District Council (RDC) has approached the High Court seeking an order interdicting its suspended chief executive officer Mr Zimbabwe Ndlovu from accessing council premises and compelling him to surrender all assets belonging to the local authority.
Mr Ndlovu was suspended last Friday without benefits and pay for alleged abuse of office pending investigations. Council treasurer, Mr Lawrence Mudimba was immediately appointed acting CEO.
Mr Ndlovu was initially suspended for the same allegations in March but investigations stalled due to the Covid-19 induced lockdown and he recently returned to work.
Last Friday, Nkayi RDC held a full council meeting to discuss Mr Ndlovu’s issue. Among other allegations, Mr Ndlovu is being accused of gross misuse of Zimbabwe National Road Administration (Zinara) funds, flouting procurement and tender regulations, using a council vehicle without a log book and failing to implement recommendations made by the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works.
Nkayi RDC, through its lawyers James, Moyo-Majwabu and Nyoni Legal Practitioners, yesterday filed an urgent chamber application at the Bulawayo High Court citing Mr Ndlovu as a respondent.
The council wants Mr Ndlovu to be barred from entering council premises and vacate his office as well as return all council assets, which include his official car, office keys, laptop and any other assets in his possession.
In his founding affidavit, council chairperson, Councillor Jameson Joshua Mnethwa said despite having been served with the suspension letter, Mr Ndlovu is refusing to vacate his office and insists that he will not comply with the directive.
“On September 11, 2020, Nkayi RDC held a full council meeting and resolved to suspend the respondent (Mr Ndlovu) without salary or benefits. He was also ordered to immediately return council movables including his work laptop, office keys and council vehicle (registration number AEN3413) and any other council movables in accordance with section 5 (c) of the Nkayi RDC code of conduct of 2007,” he said.
“Respondent was alerted of his suspension on September 11, 2020, but he unequivocally rejected his suspension and further stated that he would attend work and continue utilising council property contrary to the conditions of his suspension.”
In June, the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works, through its investigating team led by Hwange district coordinator, Mr Simon Muleya concluded that Mr Ndlovu interfered with the procurement and tender committee recommendations by entering into a contract with a logistics company without authorisation from council.
In its findings, the investigations team also stated that Mr Ndlovu abused council funds among other acts of misconduct.
Clr Mnethwa said Mr Ndlovu’s rejection of his suspension is highly disruptive to the day-to-day business of council. He said there is a risk that Mr Ndlovu could interfere with potential witnesses or documentary evidence pending disciplinary proceedings.
“Respondent’s presence is a blatant disregard of council resolution, Nkayi RDC code of conduct 2007 and therefore undermines the authority of his employer. He is also in possession of sensitive, confidential and important property that is required for council’s daily operations,” he said.
Clr Mnethwa said an acting CEO has been appointed hence his authority is being undermined by the presence of the respondent at council offices.
“I believe that the urgency of this matter is self-evident and to that effect, it is crucial that the respondent be removed to pave way for the acting CEO and smooth running of the council affairs. Council needs to make urgent use of its property, which is in respondent’s possession,” he said.
“In view of that, I have approached this honourable court seeking an interim interdict barring the respondent from proceeding with his unsanctioned presence at the council premises pending disciplinary proceedings.”
In his suspension letter, Clr Mnethwa outlined the reasons for Mr Ndlovu’s suspension.
“Following a full council meeting held on the 11th September 2020 and the resolutions made thereof, you are hereby suspended from your post as Chief Executive Officer for Nkayi RDC with effect from 11th September 2020, pending disciplinary action,” he said.
The letter stated that the reasons for Mr Ndlovu’s suspension included changing the tender recommendations by the procurement committee to a company with a bad record.
The letter also stated that Mr Ndlovu entered into a contract with Zenzele Logistics without a council resolution on July 6, 2018 and only presented this to council in March this year. Mr Ndlovu also utilised US$1 055 for a trip to Sweden without council authority and changed council lawyers without a council resolution.
Mr Ndlovu is yet to respond to the council application. — @mashnets