LOCAL Government minister July Moyo and Harare Metropolitan Provincial minister Oliver Chidawu have been implicated in the ongoing City of Harare corruption scandal, after they allegedly tried to unprocedurally secure the release of the local authority’s human capital director Cainos Chingombe.
Chingombe is facing corruption allegations at the Harare Magistrates Court, in a case in which he allegedly transferred US$130 000 meant for the provision of water, sanitation, education and recreational services into his personal bank account.
He allegedly bought a top-of-the-range car with the money. He appeared before Harare regional magistrate Marehwanazvo Gofa on Tuesday, charged with criminal abuse of office and was remanded in custody to December 21.
Chingombe was initially released from remand on December 4 and tasted freedom for barely 24 hours, before he was arrested again on December 5.
Government and council sources allege that during his brief release, Moyo and Chidawu made strenuous efforts to get the charges against Chingombe dropped, including issuing verbal instructions to officials from the Special Anti-Corruption Unit (Sacu) housed in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s office, which was investigating him.
Sacu is also understood to be considering pressing charges of attempting to defeat the course of justice against the two ministers, according to sources.
In addition to that, municipal sources said Moyo and Chidawu also allegedly facilitated the clandestine reinstatement of Chingombe, who was serving a suspension along with City of Harare’s finance director Tendai Kwenda and other council executives on separate abuse of office allegations, in a matter that has reportedly caught the attention of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc).
Sources allege that Chingombe was reinstated to his position in October at the behest of Moyo and Chidawu, reportedly working with the chairperson of the council’s human resources committee and Harare Mayor Jacob Mafume, who is himself also facing corruption charges.
The Zimbabwe Independent was informed that the two ministers allegedly last week frantically tried to block the arrest of Chingombe by giving verbal instructions to Sacu chairperson Thabani Mpofu saying Chingombe’s reinstatement was a political decision made “by the powers that be”.
Information obtained from City of Harare officials indicates that Chingombe, following his unprocedural reinstatement, is now being primed to take over as Harare Town Clerk with the incumbent Hosiah Chisango facing corruption allegations.
A well-placed source alleged this week that following the initial arrest of Chingombe, Moyo and Chidawu tried to have him released, but Mpofu refused to buckle to political pressure insisting he was in possession of evidence allegedly linking the director to massive looting that has been playing out at the beleaguered municipality.
“The two Ministers played a critical role in the comeback of the human capital director in close collaboration with the council committee on human resources and the mayor. This was seen as a political move to consolidate power in the City of Harare. There are strong indications that Chingombe was now having meetings with Minister Moyo as he was now tipped to take over as acting Town Clerk,” an official source alleged.
Allegations are that Mafume, chairing a full council meeting and having received instructions from the two ministers, enabled the re-appointment of Chingombe despite the existence of a tribunal report that implicated Chingombe in allegations of milking the city council of millions.
There are also allegations that when the team from Sacu arrested councillors who were to move a motion on the reinstatement of Chingombe, Chidawu also called Mpofu pleading for the release of the councillors. The appointment of Chingombe went ahead despite reservations raised by a section of councillors on the existing disciplinary issues against Chingombe, sources further revealed.
“The re-appointment of Chingombe had the backing of Mafume who chaired the full council meeting which readmitted him in October. This appointment was despite the existence of some disciplinary issues around Chingombe,” the source said.
A tribunal report dated May 24, 2018 containing allegations against Chingombe has since been submitted to Sacu and Zacc. Chingombe was at the time arrested on allegations of double dipping, awarding monstrous retrenchment packages and awarding top executives unjustified allowances.
The tribunal report also implicates former acting town clerk Josephine Ncube.
The tribunal according to the report noted that, the former finance director, one Mandizvidza was funding the executive payroll on verbal communication of the amount due which varied every month from Chingombe’s.
Such funding was made without any request for documentary justification by Chingombe for the amount transferred. Information is that after transferring the amount to the executive payroll account, the finance director was allegedly barred from verifying or inspecting the net amount transferred to each employee’s account.
The executive payroll and executive salaries during Chingombe’s time as human capital director were neither audited nor reconciled and approval of the amounts transferred to individuals rested with Chingombe or Ncube.
Efforts to get comments from July Moyo were fruitless as his two cell phone numbers were unreachable while text messages were not responded to.
Chidawu denied playing a role in the reinstatement of Chingombe.
“I don’t know about that. I was not involved in any way,” he claimed. He also denied trying to facilitate the withdrawal of charges against Chingombe saying: “I didn’t do any such thing.”
Mpofu said he could not comment on the issue since it was now before the courts.
Mafume said: “The issue is that we acted on a recommendation by the human resources committee and I then chaired the full council meeting which unanimously approved of his reinstatement. As the law requires, we then submitted it to the ministry which did not object to our decision.” — Andrew Kunambura/ Own Correspondent