…From slippers to D4D in 5 months
MASVINGO – After the 26 March by-elections in which the then newly formed political party Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) romped to victory in Masvingo Urban which had four vacant wards, the social media was awash with stories of how a CCC candidate who wore slippers defeated a ‘moneyed’ Zanu PF candidate who drove a Discovery among his fleet of posh vehicles.
The situation was a David and Goliath situation for the ward 3 seat where the unpopular CCC candidate Rocky Kamuzonda defeated Zanu PF’s Taurai Mudzviti who was known for his flamboyancy and splashing money on Election Day.
Besides being humble and coming from CCC, many people believed that Rocky was the best candidate who related well with their social needs unlike Mudzviti who was accused of looking down upon people.
An almost similar situation was in ward 4 where CCC’s Alec Tabe squared off with Richard Mudyavanhu who is also well resourced like Mudzviti.
However, barely five months after election, Kamuzonda and Tabe are already driving top class vehicles, a development that has shocked many and raised the electorate’s eyebrows, who are now alleging that the two could have been involved in some shoddy deals at council to get money within that short period.
Kamuzonda is driving an Isuzu twin cab while Tabe has a Toyota Hilux single cab.
Some people allege the new councilors were paid off to be part of the SIMBI Steel Makers deal which torched a storm recently with residents questioning the sincerity of council in giving the company such a huge piece of land while they were failing to develop the smaller one they already have.
However, one councilor dismissed the allegation saying they had already finalized the deal when they got in and they could not question anything about the deal.
“They couldn’t have been paid by SIMBI for the agreement because when they came in we had already sealed the deal so they were not better positioned to question it,” said the councilor.
The councilor however said the reason for the change of life style is that they were given residential stands in Rhodene and they sold them to improve themselves.
“You see when you become councilor, people expect you to help them in many ways, if there is a funeral people, expect the councilor to chip in with money, food among other things, so if you don’t have resources it will be hard.
“They bought cars so that when they arrive at functions they will look presentable and appealing. They vote for you knowing you are poor but once you get in they expect you to help them financially,” said the councilor.
The issue of stands however holds much water but others still suspect that there was corruption somehow saying the Urban Councils Act stipulates that a councilor should get two stands; one residential stand in his ward and a commercial stand which can be near or in the Central Business District (CBD).
The new councilors however allegedly got stands in Rhodene (ward 9) instead of wards 3 and 4.
Another contentious issue is that the Act also stipulates that that privilege should be given to councilors serving a full term, when they get into office during a general election not a by-election.
One resident union representative said they were shocked to see the two councilors driving such vehicles within the short period of time they have been in office, which shows there could be something fishy going on in council corridors.
Contacted for comment, Masvingo Mayor Councilor Collen Maboke said he was not furnished on any development pertaining to the awarding of stands to the new councilors and said he only heard it from the streets.
“I am not aware of the development, I wasn’t informed of the councilors being given stands and I am sure the housing director will furnish us,” said Maboke.
On the awarding of stands, Maboke said procedurally councilors should be given stands in their respective wards depending on availability and if there are no stands then they can get one from any other location but there is no clear regulation that regulates the value or size of stand they should get.
“They should get stands in their wards depending on the availability of stands. However, there is no clear regulation on the size and value of the stands they should get. However, what I know is that they pay 40 percent of the actual value of the stand,” said Maboke
He then referred questions on the issue of whether it’s permissible for councilors who get in office through by-elections and would not serve a full term, to the Town Clerk.
Masvingo Town Clerk Engineer Edward Mukaratirwa said the matter is a policy issue and the mayor was better positioned to comment on the matter.
“That one is a policy issue and the right person to comment on that is the Mayor. All issues relating to policy and councilors themselves are the mayor’s responsibility or the ministry,” said Mukaratirwa.
When contacted for comment, Kamauzonda rubbished the allegations of having been bribed nor sold his residential stand.
He however confirmed having bought a stand in Rhodede at 40 percent and he has already paid for it.
He went on to say he bought the Isuzu twin cab from his close relative at a very cheap price and a convenient payment plan.
“I once owned two cars before and currently the one I am driving I bought it from a close relative who gave me a very conducive payment plan that is how I afforded the car. I got my residential stand in Rhodene which I paid 40 percent of the actual selling price.
“I used to do mining and get a lot of money at some point from there so I can afford to drive. I also have a kombi that is plying from Runyararo West to town and people don’t know and that is why they are surprised to see me driving this car,” said Kamuzonda
On his part, Tabe scoffed at the allegations and said nothing has changed in his lifestyle and since he has been driving a car since 2013.
He said he is a dealer and has been saving some money for some time saying he and that has allowed him to buy his latest car.
“Being a councilor is a part time job, I am a dealer and that is what I do most of my time. I started driving in 2013, had two cars which are currently down but have been saving for some time until I bought this car. I bought it at a cost that I cannot even compare to my daily earning.
“We could not have been bribed by Simbi or council over that deal, we found the deal already done and we questioned some of the things until we got to understand, the matter is yet to be finalised by council but everything is above board. I dont take bribes, I work on my own and the money I get from there is enough to buy me a car,” said Tabe