Karoi audit: Director exposes Councillors’ stands loot

KAROI– Embattled and under-fire Karoi Town Council housing director Sibongile Mujuruki exposed a dossier of outgoing policymakers owing a combined US$74 000 in arrears for both residential, industrial and commercial stands ‘looting’, Zim Morning Post can exclusively reveal.

The ten councillors from both Zanu PF (7) and MDC Alliance (3) acquired residential and commercial stand.

Mujuruki’s housing department has been the centre of controversy amid allegations of deep-rooted corruption in stands saga gripping the farming town for several decades.

Mujuruki is allegedly fighting ten councillors who recommended that she must ‘go on leave’ during an ‘in-committee’ resolution adopted in January this year.

However, besides a full council resolution to the effect that senior managers go on leave, Mujuruki who has been at the council housing helm since 2008 refused opening a can of worms and cold war between councillors and management.

According to a document seen by the Zim Morning Post, titled Karoi Town Councillors Stands List for Period 2013-2018 the ten-member team owed a cumulative USD$74 3582.00 in unpaid stands fees.

Mujuruki’s document alleged that she was fighting a ‘corrupt system,’.

However, she did not make public another document where herself and senior managers have institutional stands including creches, private schools and commercial stands, that this publication has been informed.

According to some sources, Mujuruki has never had peace with some senior officers who could offer residential and commercial stands and ask her to facilitate ‘lease agreements’ without clearance from her.

She was always cornered by corrupt officials and councillors and has been fighting a lonely battle,’ said one of our sources.

However, a former councillor revealed that owing council was not a criminal offence as alleged by Mujuruki.

It is not criminal to owe council anything but if we have clear cut polices on payment plans, council will recover what is owed by who and how. This is a desperate attempt by an official who failed to discharge her duties professionally,’ said a source speaking on condition that he is not named.

Residents and ratepayers who are in ‘passive resistance mood’ for the past few years owe council over $6 million in rates as of last year.

Karoi Resident Trust (Karest) director Travo Chiwanga voiced concerns over abuse of office by some senior town council managers due to lack of sound policies that deter development.

Chiwanga called on a five-member investigating team deployed by Ministry of Local Government to probe the local authority on governance, lack of policies and failure to pay statutory obligations.

Chiwanga called on the investigating team to fully get to the bottom of the town ‘housing department saga’ that is ‘shambolic’

He added that it is unprofessional conduct where individuals could go over a decade without seeking annual leave.

Chiwanga said, “We have received several complains where some residents lost out of lease agreements in some suburbs like Westview, Kubatana among others after they were recalled by housing department. Residents are battling to get them back as they are nowhere to be found.

Houses built in late 1970s do not have home ownership and no one is helping out. Someone is sleeping on his or her duty and must be held accountable. We have requested data base of our council stands but all our efforts are hitting the brick wall because someone believes they are immune to accountability as public officials.

Lack of sound housing policy is now being abused for suspected corruption. Karoi town council rot must be cleared if we are to progress.”

He however, lamented the failure by housing director, Mujuruki to go on annual leave for several years saying there is ‘something amiss’ over the way the case has been handled.

We are surprised that management and councillors can be in conflict over such clear labour practise where an official has to be reminded that they need to rest annually. It is both uncalled for that someone can hide behind victimisation allegations if they are told to go on leave,’ added Chiwanga.

Some councillors revealed that of late they have battled with management to have some policies that act as ‘guiding principles for workers’ but rebuffed.

We have tabled that our council must have housing policies that makes it mandatory for an updated data base, issuing of home ownerships, lease and how it is handled. This has not been done due to financial cash flows but it helps on how the council operates,’ said one of our sources a councillor who declined to be named.

Another councillor added that policies like transport or staffing can easily reduce abuse.

We must have clear cut polices on transport so that if one steps out of order, there will be guidelines that makes everyone accountable to their action,’ added our source.

Recently, Auditor-general Mildred Chiri exposed Karoi town council of their failure due to lack of policies as well as governance issues.

Coincidentally, an investigation team started its probe on the farming town two weeks ago.

The five-member team headed by Harare administrator Agnes Tagarira, town planner Mazani, Munyaradzi Motsi an official from Ministry of Local Government, one Dzukaiye an auditor and Mandeya a financial advisor.