Town clerk inquest gobbles $47 000

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The disciplinary hearing of suspended Chinhoyi town clerk Ezekiel Muringani, who faces several allegations including misappropriating council funds, continued this week, amid reports that the council had so far spent in excess of $47 000 in legal and other related fees.

Sources in the council’s treasury department told NewsDay the local authority had paid its lawyers (name supplied) a staggering $30 000 to represent it during the inquest.

The 15-member board of inquiry is also alleged to be draining the cash-strapped council, with the board chairman reportedly taking $350 per sitting. The other members allegedly get $200 each per sitting, sources said.

The probe team, which last sat on Tuesday, has so far convened five sittings translating to $15 750 in sitting allowances for the board.

Some members of the disciplinary hearing board also allegedly claimed further allowances for food and accommodation. Chinhoyi Mayor Claudius Nyamhondoro confirmed the probe team’s expenses.

“I would first want to make it clear that this is not the first time that an inquiry has been done by this council. There were several commissions that came to investigate the operations. We have instituted the inquiry into Muringani’s conduct because this is aimed at sorting out problems if there are any. So this is a necessity for council to incur such huge expenses,” said Nyamhondoro on Thursday.

Meanwhile, one of the charges, in which Muringani allegedly pocketed $4 135 council money without signing for it, has been dropped. The inquiry team this week preferred to drop the charge owing to insufficient evidence.

The town clerk now faces two charges of allegedly falsely claiming over $12 000 medical assistance when he was on full medical aid and another of dereliction of duty.

The dereliction of duty charge stems from his alleged failure to supervise former finance director William Mandinde, who has since been fired.

Mandinde, whose case is now before the criminal courts, allegedly defrauded the local authority of $79 629, 68.