SINCE the formation of the coalition government in 2009, MDC-T officials who joined central and local government have quickly jumped on the gravy train together with their Zanu PF counterparts as corruption and greed took centre stage tarnishing the image of the party and alienating it from the masses.
According to MDC-T secretary-general and Finance minister Tendai Biti, the trappings of office, luxury and corruption associated with his party has cost it dearly in terms of popular support as indicated by the recent Freedom House survey.
Biti wrote in a local weekly yesterday that the MDC-T’s presence in unity government brought its own contradictions and challenges.
“The first was that internally a clear chasm developed between the grass roots party and its members seconded to government. Suddenly, one group was now driving Mercedes Benzes and on the face of it now on par with the Zanu PF effigy of power and corruption,” he said.
Biti’s observations are backed up by an internal party investigations report titled Corporate governance and service delivery audit of 10 selected MDC-run Local Authority Councils, gleaned by the Zimbabwe Independent.
The investigation, conducted by members drawn from the MDC-T’s national executive and the women and youth assemblies wings, and led by party deputy secretary-general Tapiwa Mashakada, shows how councillors corruptly acquired vast tracts of land, fleets of luxury vehicles and built mansions through proceeds from corrupt activities.
The report covers 10 councils, Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare, Chinhoyi, Marondera, Bindura, Kwekwe, Zvishavane and Gokwe.
It notes the “shocking change of lifestyle of some councillors and sudden accumulation of movable and immovable property”.
Procurement is singled out as the breeding ground for corruption and self-enrichment among the councillors.
Harare deputy mayor and councillor for Ward 42 in Hatcliffe, Emmanuel Chiroto, is fingered by the report as one of the party’s most corrupt councillors.
Chiroto was allegedly involved in the awarding of a tender to his mistress to buy 28 Toyota Spacio vehicles for council officials.
“He went to Beitbridge and personally assisted his mistress to import and clear the vehicles as belonging to the City of Harare,” reads the report. “His mistress owns a company called Glyns Bolts which supplies bolts and nuts to the City of Harare. These Spacio vehicles were later purchased for US$5 900 (each) instead of the purchase price of US$4 500 approved by full council.”
Chiroto is also accused of influencing the Marondera municipality to award a tender for connecting water pipes from Wenimbe Dam to the town to a company called BaseQuip, which is believed to be owned by the same mistress.
The report also says Chiroto is building a three-storey mansion in Mount Pleasant using proceeds from irregular deals and owns a fleet of cars. Chiroto also stands accused of manipulating a tender to supply 27 compactor vehicles and three skip trucks for refuse collection. The compactors were reportedly US$24 000 more expensive than other suppliers.
It states Chiroto allegedly influenced the system to award the tender to a Puzza Busta which deals in Isuzu vehicles and further claims he was rewarded with a brand new Isuzu D-tech vehicle by the company.
He is accused of converting US$3 000 from the US$15 000 donated by the Australian embassy in the 2008 for councillors’ welfare to his own use. The report says Chiroto leads one of the powerful council factions which influence the awarding of tenders.The party’s investigations committee recommended that Chiroto be suspended from holding public office for a specific period.
Another councillor fingered in the report is Peter Gandidzanwa Marange of Ward 29 Highfield West who is said to have joined the party with nothing, but his lifestyle had dramatically become a “rags to riches” story.
Marange, the report says, now owns a fleet of cars which include a Jeep Cherokee, Mazda Cronos and Nissan Narvara, among others.
He has been a member of the National Employment Council (NEC) since 2008 and the group corruptly pays members hefty allowances, which include a US$500 monthly retainer, US$100 per seating and travel allowances calculated at US$1 per kilometre.
“NEC meetings are conveniently held in Victoria Falls, Kariba and Nyanga in order to maximise,” the report says.
The probe team recommended immediate and effective suspension of Marange pending dismissal from the party.
Councillor of Ward 22 Hatfield, Phumulani Musagwiza, was accused of establishing a housing cooperative “whose membership is fictitious in order to personally benefit from the 80 residential stands he acquired in Msasa Park”.
The investigating team questioned why the case Musagwiza was investigating as chairperson of the Audit Committee Council probing the theft of 300 beasts from a council farm by Moses Chingwena died a natural death.Musagwiza is also accused of conniving with council management to allocate him a residential stand in the affluent Borrowdale West, as well as owning four vehicles “from nowhere”.
The probe report recommended that Musagwiza be suspended pending dismissal.
It concludes by saying some councillors had become ambitious as a result of their “ill-gotten financial muscles” and were seeking to topple sitting MPs at the very “earliest opportunity” through vote buying.
Reached for a comment yesterday, Chiroto said he had not seen the report and did not know anything about the alleged corruption. — Staff Writer.