It never rains for Gweru City Council

The situation does not look too good in Gweru.

Council clinics are supposed to have at least a doctor and three clinical officers, but alas!

When Council Doctor and Director of Health Services Dr Peter Chihanga left close to a decade ago, he was never replaced.

That was after Dr Chihanga had taken over from Dr Elizabeth Xaba, when the latter was promoted to the Health Ministry Permanent Secretary post.

“That is true. We do not have money to employ for now,” admitted Acting Health Director, Christopher Ruwodo to 263Chat at a Mtapa Clinic tour with councillors and top management recently.

Ruwodo, Engineer Praymore Mhlanga (Engineering), and Unity Jaja (Housing and Community Services) have been serving in acting capacities for not less than a year each. Edgar Mwedzi, the Director of Finance, is the only substantive departmental head.

The local authority has been struggling to pay workers their salaries in time. Instead of channelling 70% of revenue to service delivery and the remainder towards salaries, the opposite is true.

Last year council took over the running of Go Beer Breweries, its former liquor undertaking department, after the one-time cash cow went belly up.

A few months back, the Messenger of Court grabbed 400 cattle from a council farm, which were sold within hours!

Now we hear Mayor Hamutendi Kombayi, Town Clerk, Daniel Matawu and a number of senior top officials are under investigation following news that they bought the cattle in question at a municipal auction.

A probe team established by former Local Government Minister Dr Ignatius Chombo to investigate cases of alleged corruption and abuse of funds is pursuing more than 30 cases, some of which include the one in which the municipality stands accused of having 18 bank accounts!

“Council sold 400 head of cattle and most were bought by the mayor (Hamutendi Kombayi), town clerk (Daniel Matawu) and officials,” informs a letter by Local Government Permanent Secretary George Mlilo to council’s chief internal auditor, dated June 24 2015.

Three out of 18 councillors were also suspended by Chombo.

The MDC-T triumvirate consists Albert Chirau (ward 11), Kenneth Sithole (ward 4) and Moses Marecha (ward 5), with Chirau holding the finance committee chairperson portfolio, and Marecha leading the audit and manpower committee. Sithole, who recently appeared in court on charges of assaulting a council driver for calling him ‘infertile’ is the only councillor returned from the previous council.

“Following receipt of allegations of abuse of office and council property by yourself, I am in terms of section 114 (1) of the Urban Councils Act Chapter 29:15, suspending you as councillor… with immediate effect. I will shortly appoint an investigation team to look into the allegations and advise you accordingly,” reads part of Chombo’s letter.

As the local authority tries to defend itself from several allegations, it seems a far-fetched idea to employ more workers especially doctors or clinical officers.

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