Embattled Chitungwiza acting town clerk Evangelista Machona this year allegedly paid $219 227 for a commercial stand measuring 72 839 square metres which was allocated to her in 2015 and was supposed to be paid for in United States dollars.
BY TAFADZWA KACHIKO
The stand number in question is 12078 in Nyatsime.
A leaked memo seen by NewsDay revealed that the Chitungwiza Municipality resolved to allocate a secondary school stand in Nyatsime to Machona at its 426th ordinary meeting held on September 4, 2015 and she was informed of the decision on October 13.
The document indicates that the cost of the land per square metre was US$3. Machona was then required to pay at least 30% of the price by December 13 and the balance was to be paid in 12 months in instalments of US$12 788,24. She, however, paid using real time gross settlement (RTGS) after the figure had been eroded by inflation.
“The beneficiary used her influence as acting town clerk not to have the stand’s price recalculated. It had become the council’s norm to recalculate prices of stands to chase inflation. This was against sound corporate governance for a public institution,” a council insider who declined to be named said.
This came as Chitungwiza Residents and Rate Payers’ Association chairperson Arthur Taderera alleged that Machona’s daughter Wadzanai Jenje withdrew interest in the land that was allocated to her when the former heard of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) had scheduled a visit to investigate corruption cases.
“When Machona was appointed town clerk her daughter Wadzanai Jenje withdrew interest in stand number 21242 covering 200 square metres in Zengeza 2 that had been apportioned to her. Jenje claimed her money back but it’s evident that the stand is still in her name. The way she was refunded was also not procedural. We understand that there are offices that deal with refunds,” Taderera said.
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“It was refunded in haste and we suspect that she was afraid of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission which was due to visit, following the letter we sent to the commission. It seems she wanted to clear her name and that of her daughter.”
Taderera said an audit of Chitungwiza Council showed that Machona allocated a stand to herself, her husband and daughter.
Jenje had paid $6 441,50.
Machona, however, told NewsDay that when she was offered the stand it was payable at a 1:1 rate and she didn’t pay on time following an interdict from the Local Government ministry.
“We were given those stands following a resolution. At the time we paid there was no use of United States dollars, this started recently. It was 1:1. I never paid for the stand on time because there was an interdict. The minister intervened and we are waiting for a promulgation to let us know which stands were invaded or not. No one is very sure of what they are dealing with in Nyatsime, that’s why the minister intervened,” she said.
Machona further said her daughter withdrew interest in the land offered to her because she had found another stand and also because of corruption prevalent in the council.
“Wadzanai Jenje is a married woman with three kids and a Zimbabwean who has the right to look for a stand. She is very independent from me. She was on the waiting list and couldn’t get a stand on time as the land was fraudulently distributed. The moment she was offered in 2019, she realised that the allocation process was fraudulent and under investigation. She insisted on being refunded. Many do that. When someone gets refunded it means the person is no longer in the system. My daughter said she would look for a stand elsewhere not Chitungwiza because it’s full of corrupt activities,” she said.
Last week, 33 councillors convened to replace Machona with engineer David Duma after she blocked 2 000 offer letters and leases. The councillors got arrested on charges of criminal abuse of office and breaching of the Urban Councils Act. Follow Tafadzwa on Twitter @Tafadzw_Kachiko