Gweru council engineer resigns

GWERU council engineer Robson Manatsa has resigned barely two days after another top official was suspended on graft charges, with sources indicating that more senior employees were likely to quit to avoid being sacked following a damning audit report implicating most of them.

BY BRENNA MATENDERE

Early this week, estates and evaluations manager Gibson Chingwadza was suspended by acting town clerk Vakai Douglas Chikwekwe on allegations of presiding over shady activities that prejudiced the broke local authority of US$300 000 revenue.

Manatsa, who did not give reasons for his resignation, walked out at a time when an internal audit, led by ward 11 councillor Albert Chirau, in its report linked him to corrupt activities at the local authority.

These included allegations that he violated procurement regulations in purchasing a JCB backhoe loader that turned out to be second-hand, yet council paid for a brand new one. The engineer was accused by the internal audit team of “serious negligence leading to the death of eight people in Gweru due to typhoid last year”.

Investigations showed water pumped by council from a reservoir in Mkoba was not treated.

The town engineer was also accused of influencing the employment of line department workers with no requisite qualification as well as engaging graduate engineers to supervise senior staff in the department among other allegations.

Mayor Josiah Makombe confirmed that Manatsa had tendered his resignation.

“I can confirm that the town engineer has resigned. He did not give detailed reasons for his resignation, but I just hope that maybe he got a better paying job elsewhere. I really cannot speculate on why he left the city council even though it is true that he had been fingered on corruption issues by an internal audit we carried out,” he said.

Substantive town clerk Elizabeth Gwatipedza is also still on suspension over a slew of corruption charges, some of which touched on her failure to effectively supervise the engineering department that was then led by Manatsa.

When contacted for comment, Manatsa said: “I am in a meeting, please call later,” before hanging up. He did not respond to written questions sent to his mobile phone. Further efforts to contact him did not yield results as his phone was on voicemail.

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