Council engulfed in huge scandals

Gokwe Town Council allegedly engaged a Harare company to procure river and pitsand from the capital city

A local anti-corruption organisation says it has unearthed massive cases of corruption at Gokwe Town Council amid allegations that law enforcement agencies and government departments are giving a blind eye to the alleged graft.

The Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa (ACT-SA) in a report titled: Advancing personal self-interest at the expense of service delivery in Zimbabwe local authorities: The case of Gokwe Town Council dated January 31, 2023, said it had made “astonishing findings on how the local authority was being used as a cash cow by its management and councillors.” 

ACT-SA alleged that senior managers at the local authority connived with some councillors to push for the passing of council resolutions to advance their self-interests.

It said most of the resolutions contradicted recommendations proposed by the Local Government ministry’s 2019 investigations committee on the operations of the local authority.

“In addition, it is alleged that one of the officials at the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) was reportedly protecting corrupt officials at the town house in exchange for favourable terms of payment of bills and other benefits,” reads the report in part. 

“The same official accused of supporting corrupt officials forced one of the alleged whistleblowers to sit on the floor in his office. 

“One of the OPC officials based in Gokwe is alleged to be working with council staff and his alleged role is to intimidate all those uncovering acts of corruption at the local authority."

ACT-SA said the local authority allegedly engaged a Harare company to procure river and pitsand from the capital city when there is an abundant supply of the resources in Gokwe. 

There were also allegations of irregular allocation of a commercial stand to a former top council official.

ACT-SA said council officials were abusing travel and subsistence allowances.

“The payment of travelling and subsistence allowances to Gokwe Town Council staff and councillors should be audited from 2018 to January 2023 considering the high suspicion that the same might have been abused for personal benefit,” the report added.

ACT-SA said in another case the local authority was allegedly prejudiced of a “whopping” US$45,000 claim for mileage for use of a private motor vehicle by a council official.

Obert Chinhamo, the ACT- SA regional director, called for an investigation into the operations of the local authority.

“The Gokwe case study gives several lessons that should be noted by all local authorities in the country,” Chinhamo said.

“It is clear through the ACT-SA report that councillors facilitate corruption through poor decisions made without an assessment of the implications thereof. In the case of Gokwe, the local authority lost a vehicle and US$45 000 mileage claim through an ill-thought decision. 

“It’s also sad that the local authority has been invaded by officials seeking personal gains at the expense of service delivery.

“(The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission, Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Republic Police) and the ministry of Local Government should investigate Gokwe Town Council based on our findings.”

Local Government minister July Moyo could not be reached for comment on the matter.

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