THE tribunal appointed by the government to conduct disciplinary hearings of suspended Chitungwiza municipality councillors has cleared three councillors, while lambasting axed town clerk, George Makunde and his management for gross incompetence.
BY ALBERT MASAKA
MDC-T councillor, Tendai Saimoni and two Zanu PF councillors Betty Jason Dokora and Wilfred Gwekwete were found not guilty of the charges they were facing by the three-member tribunal, which was headed by Virginia Mudimu.
Fired Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere last year suspended Chitungwiza mayor Phillip Mutoti and all 24 councillors for allegedly corruptly allocating themselves tracts of land worth over $7 million.
Saimoni told NewsDay yesterday that he was cleared of all three charges of authorising the use of the estate account to pay council employee’s salaries without the minister’s approval. He was also cleared of charges of authorising and causing council to incur irregular and wasteful expenditure by convening workshop in Kadoma outside the council’s area of jurisdiction in violation of the ministers circular and unilaterally reviewed his travel and subsistence allowances.
In the ruling that exonerated Saimoni, the tribunal blamed management, saying according to section 300 of the Urban Council’s Act the Chitungwiza council “has always operated and continues to operate one account in violation of the law”, as the law does not give council an option to operate a capital account only under the estates account as it was doing .
The tribunal also blamed Makunde for giving wrong advice to council during a meeting held on March 24, 2016 after he was asked by councillors on the legality of the 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.
“Therefore, the town clerk either deliberately misled the council in a bid to diffuse a tense situation that was brewing at his doorstep caused by council employees, who had not been paid for seven months and were threatening to go on strike or he himself was incompetent in interpreting the Urban Councils Act particularly section 292 as read with section 300 (1) and (2).”
Chitungwiza municipality has 14 MDC-T councillors, including mayor Mutoti and 11 Zanu PF councillors, who were all suspended.
The minister appointed a three-person caretaker council headed by Madzudzo Pawadyira and assisted by district administrator, Zivanai Chisango and former councillor and businessman, Joshua Mabhiza.