‘Ministry complicit in Karoi council rot’

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By Nhau Mangirazi

Local Government ministry officials have been implicated in the Karoi town council housing department rot after they reportedly stopped a resolution by policymakers to suspend director Sibongile Mujuruki pending investigations early this year, NewsDay has heard.

Karoi town councillors, six from Zanu PF and four from MDC Alliance, resolved late January to force all senior managers, who had served close to 10 years without taking a break, to go on leave.

Mujuruki joined council in 2008 and has never taken an annual break.

“We resolved that those who had more days accrued without going on leave must do so. Some heads of departments took over three months leave as they had served for more than 10 years,” a source close to the developments said.

“When the resolution came out, Mujuruki refused (to go on leave) and stayed put. As part of our resolution, we wanted her to go on leave so that investigations into allegations of misconduct could be carried out without interference.

“We had resolved that town secretary Wellington Mutikani writes her so that she considers taking leave or that she must go on indefinite suspension. Our resolutions were overpowered and overturned. As policymakers, we are being hindered from cleaning up the rot in council.”

It is believed that Mujuruki sent some dossiers to the ministry claiming the councillors were “targeting her as a woman”.

“She even went further to say the councillors had no moral ground to suspend her because they were involved in the commercial stands scam. As councillors, we had nothing to hide because failure to pay for our stands was not a criminal offence, but an administrative issue where management was answerable. From her presentations, ministry officials took sides and ruled against our resolution as politically-motivated. We are in this mess because of ministry officials’ double standards,” added another councillor.

“Our resolution still stands because we want the housing department investigated independently.”

Mujuriki refused to comment on the matter.

“I am sorry, I cannot comment on anything. Speak to Mr Mutikani, who is the accounting officer,” she said.

Mutikani did not answer his mobile phone, but council chairperson Abel Matsika confirmed the rift saying they were ruled offside after passing the resolution to suspend her.

“It is true that as council we had resolved to have her suspended pending investigations, but it was turned down somehow. Currently, she has stopped issuing leases to clients and she is nicodemously implementing council resolutions putting council operations into disrepute,” Matsika said.

Local Government ministry has, however, since deployed a team to investigate stands allocations, estate funds as well as governance issues in Karoi.