Suspended Gweru town clerk appears before tribunal

BY BRENNA MATENDERE

SUSPENDED Gweru town clerk Elizabeth Gwatipedza yesterday appeared before an independent tribunal set to hear her case of alleged misdemeanors at the local authority.

The hearing is expected to take two days.

She was suspended without pay and benefits by mayor Josiah Makombe early this month.

According to the charge sheet seen by Southern Eye, the embattled town clerk is facing several counts of alleged corruption and abuse of office.

Some of the charges levelled against her include allegations that she spruced up her residential property in Gweru’s Southview Park, using ratepayers’ money but without council approval. The house is being rented for her by council and it is alleged that she built an outer toilet for use by security guards and also forked money from council to pay for installation of an intercom facility without authority.

The town clerk is also accused of corruption after reportedly parceling out a residential stand to provincial coordinator (formerly provincial administrator) Albiot Marongwe. The property is located at Randorf Park near Fletcher High School.

The town clerk is also accused of corruption in the purchase of a loader backhoe earth-moving vehicle, which was later discovered to be a second-hand after council had paid for a brand new machine.

In a separate charge, Gwatipedza is also accused of criminal abuse of office by using a council vehicle and fuel to pick up her child from a school in Chinhoyi.

She also faces allegations of facilitating for the purchase of her official vehicle at a price higher than that which had been recommended by council.

In another charge, Gwatipedza is accused of tampering with the list of candidates invited by council for interviews to fill the vacancy of city finance director, left vacant after the resignation of the immediate past holder of the post – Edgar Mwedzi.

The town clerk is also accused of misleading council on the water situation. She reportedly announced that the water levels would sustain the city for two years only for the supply dam (Gwenoro Dam) to run dry when councillors did not expect it.

On the other charges, Gwatipedza is accused of failure to efficiently manage council departments such as finance and engineering. The finance department does not have up to date audited books, while the engineering department is accused of failing to ensure completion of resurfacing of Moramutambara and Swazi roads, located in Mkoba 16. B&S Mucheken Pvt (Ltd) company was last year awarded a contract to rehabilitate the roads at a cost of US$3 222 753.

The project stalled after earthworks were done on the two roads.

The earthworks are up to base 1 level, waiting for tar-surfacing.

Contacted for comment, Gweru mayor Makombe confirmed that Gwatipedza’s hearing had started at a secret venue in Gweru.

“The process has started. We have a serving High Court judge who is leading the process. However, at this stage I cannot reveal names of the people in the independent tribunal. We will issue a full statement in due course. I am also unable to divulge any additional information,” he said.

Gwatipedza did not respond to a request by Southern Eye for comment or a contact of her lawyer.

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