CHIREDZI town engineer Wesley Kauma has been suspended following alleged pressure from residents who accused him of incompetence and corruption. Town secretary Charles Muchatukwa confirmed Kauma’s suspension, but could not be drawn into giving finer details.
BY GARIKAI MAFIRAKUREVA
“Yes, I confirm the town engineer has been suspended, but I cannot give details to the media right now. He is yet to be accorded a chance to respond to allegations levelled against him. So I cannot divulge much on his suspension until the matter is finalised,” Muchatukwa said.
It is suspected that Muchatukwa bowed to pressure from the United Residents and Ratepayers’ Association (Uchirra), which has since 2016 writing letters demanding that the engineer be relieved of his duties.
In its letters, Uchirra demanded an investigation into the engineer’s qualifications, citing wasted grant money, (failure to meet grant timelines), incompetence, (failure on water and sewerage upgrades and drainage system) and poor workmanship on roads as well as abuse of council property and resources — vehicle which he used on his personal errands during the construction of his many properties around town and poor management of various other council projects.
In one of the letters, the residents stated that the engineer lied to a Local Government ministry level benchmarking team that 85% of Chiredzi households had running water when the town was facing a serious water crisis.
Uchirra went on to give examples of a resident in ward 5 who lost his life after he was stabbed by thieves while searching for water, a woman who was raped in the same ward in the early hours of the day while also in search of water and a child who drowned in a well in ward 8.
The letter seen by Southern Eye reads: “Please take note that our office and membership are concerned about engineering department, particularly the engineer himself after he decided to downplay the water crisis in Chiredzi town as a non-event to gain fictitious appraisal and benchmarking marks and glory.
“Below are examples to prove that the engineer has failed to deliver his duties diligently. Last year, scores of people lost their properties and a house during flash floods due to a poor drainage system. Council has lost a lot of revenue through repeated fitting of sub-standard pipes and material year-in year-out causing unending bursts thereby continuing to duplicate resource allocation as well as sub-standard road works.
“For example, in ward 2, tens of mega-litres of treated water have been repeatedly lost on numerous occasions because the piping and fitting material initially used was wrong sizes and of poor quality. This has led to wasted resources from the inclusive government era to date, without achieving intended goals.”
Kauma was not reachable for comment.