– The mayor of scandal-ridden
Mutare has lamented bad publicity the city has received in recent weeks, saying
efforts to attract new investment were now in jeopardy.
A leaked council document recently went viral on social
media after journalist Hopewell Chin’ono uploaded it on Twitter, accusing council
and the Minister of State for Manicaland Provincial Affairs and Devolution Dr
Ellen Gwaradzimba of corruption.
The document was a memo by Director of Housing to a
special meeting, recommending council to parcel out stands to several people in Gwaradzimba’s
Those on the list included Mary M.G Sakupwanya, T. Chikuza
and Engelbert Mhako of the President’s Office, P. Mushuta and Tatenda Sithole,
Mutare High Court Judge Mwayera and chief public prosecutor J. Chigwinyiso.
Many social media commendators have lashed out at the MDC
Alliance-led council saying it was presiding over a deeply corrupt
During a WhatsApp chat programme organised by Kumakomo
Community Radio Initiative, Mayor Blessing Tandi said the negative publicity
was scaring investors away from Mutare.
“Media reports accusing Mutare councillors of
engaging in corruption are hurting our local authority’s public image. We end up
losing investors after those reports of mismanagement by city fathers.
“Negative publicity has got nagative implications on
Mutare City such as failure
to attract investors.
The current management is trying to engage partners but negative reportage is
hampering our progress,” Tandi said.
He also sought to clear council of all wrong doing.
“We don’t allocate stands on the basis that someone
is a civil servant. As council, we aim to accord everyone affordable accommodation without giving any special favours.
“We consider a lot of things though our stands manual
allows us to allocate land to government officials working in Mutare. Everyone is free to apply for a stand and
Council will allocate them if land is available,” Tandi said.
He acknowledged that the leaked document was aunthentic.
“Since 2016 after a forensic land audit report,
City of Mutare stopped the
sale of stands
as it was putting its house in order so that the process is done under the
confines of the law.
“From 2016, we have [had] a remarkable number of
people who applied for stands from City of Mutare with police, soldiers,
individuals and companies included. When we resumed sales of stands, the Housing
Director wrote a report
asking council to consider
government officials in the allocation process,” said Tandi.
Mutare Residents and Ratepayers Association coordinator
David Mutambirwa said it was crucial for the local authority make official information
more accessible to promote a relationship based on transparency and trust.
“As long as council is run in secrecy, residents
will not have a sense of ownership and that impacts on revenue collection. As
long as there is no access to information with regards to budgeting,
procurement processes, recruitment and dismissal of staff; then effective and
efficient service delivery will be a mirage,” said Mutambirwa.