…As AG orders release of Chiredzi’s graft Investigation report after 7 years
CHIREDZI- Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing July Moyo is facing backlash for seemingly protecting Zanu PF rot at Chiredzi Town Council since taking over from former minister Savior Kasukuwere 20 months after the latter had ordered an investigation at the local authority.
The order by Kasukuwere was reported to be at the instigation of former Member of Parliament for Chiredzi West Darlington Chiwa and was to expose the rot at the local authority as well as force marching Zanu PF former council chairperson Francis Moyo out of council.
United Chiredzi Residents and Ratepayers Association (UCHIRRA) and Chiredzi Residents and Ratepayers Association (CHIRRA) through their lawyers Chadyiwa and Associates approached the High Court of Zimbabwe demanding the release of the Investigation Report from the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, which was the first respondent, with Chiredzi Town Council and Alpha Nhamo being second and third respondents respectively.
A letter signed by Luckson Muradzikwa, from the Civil Division of the Attorney General’s Office on January 18 this year highlighted that the ministry had no reasons to oppose the relief being sought to release a report of the commission which was appointed to investigate Chiredzi Town Council.
”Reference is made to our notice of filing filed on the 19th of December 2022 which our clients had instructed us to file before the honorable court that they were not opposed to the relief being sought by the applicant to compel the Respondents to release the Applicant’s a report of the Commission which was appointed to investigate Chiredzi Town Council.
“Please find herein the report attached from the 1st Respondent’s Office who is our client,” read the Attorney Generals letter to Chadyiwa and Associates.
Although the report, which was released seven years after the investigation, was implicating former council chairperson Francis Moyo, Shine Plus Housing Development Trust, Inotrade Investments and council management, it was mum on the involvement of the Ministry in the parceling out of commonage stands to a shelf company belonging to Trinity Mutsetse, Inotrade Investments.
A part of the report reads: ‘Chiredzi Town Council submitted 50 high density residential stands being stand numbers 7851-7900 to the Ministry of Local Government as commonage. Following an application by Trinity Mutsetse on behalf of Inotrade Investments (Pvt) Ltd on the 14th of May 2013. The commonage stands were then allocated by the Ministry to Inotrade Investments on the 5th of February 2014 for housing development. Ordinarily, there should be an allocation memorandum drafted by the State land Management section for approval by the Permanent Secretary. In this case there was no allocation memorandum. The basis of offer could not be established as his application letter had no project proposal and proof of funding’.
From the above finding , the report did not establish the role played by the ministry in granting Inotrade Investments the 50 commonage stands without following due processes including an allocation memorandum as well as project proposal and proof of funding for Trinity Mutsetse’s company.
Though the commission established the relationship between Trinity Mutsetse and Francis Moyo leading to Justin Chauke Housing Cooperative which was once chaired by Francis Moyo taking over the project from Inotrade while turning to be the supplier of first choice in terms of services and construction materials, it did not also highlight the efforts made by the ministry in recovering the intrinsic value of the land which was initially given to Inotrade Investments.
“However, Trinity Mutsetse was financially incapable to service and develop the stands. Consequently, he roped in the Justin Chauke Housing Cooperative which is the brainchild of councillor Francis Moyo. Justin Chauke Housing Cooperative represented by the cooperative’s chairperson Stephen Goto entered into a purely supply partnership agreement with Inotrade Investments. The agreement was that Inotrade would provide the 50 stands to Justin Chauke Housing Cooperative and that in return Inotrade would become the supplier of first choice in terms of services and construction materials. The stands were then sold to 50 people who were on Chiredzi Town Council waiting list under the facilitation of Francis Moyo,” part of the document read.
The stands were sold at a cost of $60 000 and government has not yet received anything for the land intrinsic value, which raises a red flag to the Ministry’s State Land Division on why they were not making a follow up of the payment after all those years, meaning someone was also involved in this deal as the report is silent about that.
Shine Plus Housing Development Trust, which is still collecting money from the beneficiaries to its scheme in Chiredzi to date, was awarded a piece of undeveloped land in order to service 560 low density residential stands without due processes being followed like tender processes, weakening the local authority’s bargaining power, with the layout producing 629 residential stands, five institutional stands and eight commercial stands, with Shine Plus benefitting 69 stands out the 560 agreement signed by both parties,(Shine Plus and Chiredzi T C).
Council also made a verbal agreement with Shine Plus to service a much bigger proportion, with the local authority benefitting an Isuzu worth US$ 65 000 which it later gave to the late Housing Director, Gerazimosi Bambazha as an exit package, meaning it benefitted nothing from the project.
“The deduction is further strengthened by another verbal agreement between council and Shine Plus to service a much bigger portion of the same project from which council benefitted an Isuzu worth $65 000.00. It is noteworthy that council has since lost the Isuzu to the late Housing Director, Gerazimosi Bambazha. There is no submission of any commonage on this area to the Ministry,” read part of the report.
Another local company, which the report recommended to be blacklisted from being contracted by any local authority in Zimbabwe is Concord Private Limited, after it exorbitantly charged US$ 19 506.99 for the construction of a three barrel culvert of 450 mm.
The culvert, which the local authority wasn’t supposed to contract any company to construct, was funded by ZINARA at the request of residents to protect school children who were exposed to dangers of flowing sewer.
“The contracted company, Concord Private Limited confirmed having quoted US$ 19 506.99 for a three barrel culvert of 450mm.
“However, what was constructed was in variance from the initial specifications which were used to withdraw funds from ZINARA. The Town Engineer’s report to ZINARA stated that the contractor was supposed to use 900 mm concrete pipes, lined in fours in six rows. Instead, the contractor used 450 mm concrete pipes in three rows,” read the report.
The Ministry’s Engineering Department Bill of Quantity for the construction of the culvert and rates summed up to US$ 16 362.60 with the local authority being prejudiced US$ 3 144.39.