Zvimba council boss axed over shady land deals

BY Staff Reporter

LOCAL Government minister July Moyo has suspended Zvimba Rural District Council (ZRDC) chairperson Tsitsi Kaja over alleged dereliction of duty, which includes failing to heed a ministerial order to probe shady land deals in council.

Kaja was also suspended from her position as councillor for ward 5.

She was served with her suspension letter on Monday when she visited the Local Government ministry offices, where she ironically wanted to hand over a letter suspending acting chief executive officer Emmanuel Chitombo on allegations of criminal abuse of office.

Chitombo was seconded to the ZRDC by the Local Government ministry after former council boss Peter Hlohla was implicated in criminal abuse of office and shady land deals that prejudiced the council of millions of dollars.

Kaja was accused of sleeping on duty and failing to urgently implement, as ordered by the Local Government minister, a 2019 investigation report that implicated Hlohla and several council officials.

“Pursuant to allegations of gross misconduct and abuse of office, I hereby suspend you from the office of council chairperson and councillor for ward 5 for Zvimba, your suspension is in terms of Section 278 of the Constitution (Amendment No. 2013 as read with Section (152)2 of Rural District Council Act (Chapter 29:13) and as amended by Section 2 of the Local Government laws Amendment Act of 2013,” Kaja’s suspension letter read in part.

Her suspension came after Moyo was presented with an anonymous report, accusing Kaja of concealing fraudulent activities at ZRDC and in some instances, protecting culprits from being probed.

According to the report leaked to NewsDay, ZRDC has been prejudiced of millions of dollars through the sale of stands to many councillors, top government officials and members of State security, who did not qualify for the scheme.

Kaja was accused of protecting executive employees implicated in an audit report commissioned by Moyo in March last year.

The report cited several cases in which land was illegally parcelled out, with some councillors and council staff getting stands at 90% discount. Hlohla allegedly discounted the councillors’ offer letters in order to effect the illegal discounts, prejudicing both the State and council.

The councillors have since sold their stands to third parties.

“It is clear that council chairperson has abdicated her duties by turning a blind eye to such gross acts. Clearly, staff at ZRDC has contracts at variance with the 10% discounts enjoyed by staff allocated stands in Sandton,” part of the report read.

“It is clear that the individual contracts for staff should clearly capture allocation of discounted stands as a condition of service.”

ZRDC also allegedly allocated land belonging to Blackdawn Estate and after being dragged to court, offered 150 hectares of land to settle the 49.460-hectare dispute. The compensation of Blackdawn was through land awarded to a developer, Datco, through tender.

The lawyer who represented Blackdawn in the 150-hectare heist is now engaged as the council’s lawyer, the report added.

Sources told NewsDay that last week Kaja gave a verbal suspension to Chitombo, whose contract expires at the end of this month, accusing him of parcelling out land to two developers, Datco and Delatfin.

Ironically, council was simply giving back the developers the land awarded to them through tenders, but taken away by Hlohla to avoid lawsuits, according to sources.
Kaja was given seven days to appeal against her suspension.

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