SUSPENDED Harare City Council Town Clerk Hosiah Chisango, who is facing criminal charges for alleged illegal sale of residential stands, has been embroiled in a fresh ZW$51 million (US$636 000) Covid-19 materials tender scandal.
A recent council audit signed off by audit manager Archibald Nyamurova, revealed that a controversial firm Eqstra Hardware and Electricals was cherry picked to supply personal protective equipment (PPE) before unjustified price adjustments were effected to prejudice the local authority.
Eqstra Hardware owned by a former council official Albert Ndabambi was awarded a tender to supply 10 000 Tyvec suits valued at ZW$19 720 000 (US$243 000).
A council audit report indicate that Chisango, finance director Stanley Ndemera and supply chain manager Never Murerwa agreed to a price variation of ZW$5 521 (US$68) from ZW$2 997 (US$37) per kit to Eqstra Hardware, which was not shortlisted for the tender.
Council procurement officer Abel Dzuke is also accused of playing a part in the alleged tender scandal. He, however, denies the allegations.
Chisango instituted the audit into the controversial tender that is now subject to a probe by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc).
Approached for comment, Chisango declined to comment.
“I am not going to comment,” he said, curtly.
Further investigations have also unearthed that Chisango, who was suspended due to pending criminal cases, has dramatically bounced back at Town House under unclear circumstances.
A defiant, Chisango this week handed over a consignment of Covid-19 protective clothing to Harare district administrator Oliver Chari. The materials were donated by the Chinese embassy.
Following Chisango’s suspension, director of works Isaiah Chawatama was acting Town Clerk.
“There is confusion at council as there are effectively two bosses. However, procedurally Chisango is supposed to be on suspension until his matter is finalised at the courts,” said a council insider who cannot be named for professional reasons.
Upon his return, Chisango ordered the public safety division to report to him instead of the chamber secretary’s office.
Apparently, his alleged underhand land deals were exposed by the Public safety division implicated him.
The public safety department in April 2020, raised a red flag against the then acting human capital director retired Major Matthew Marara and other officials for illegally parcelling out council land in Kuwadzana.
The internal memorandum listed 17 Council officials, including principal housing officer Edgar Dzehonye, acting district officer Believer Mupawaenda, building inspector Alex Zandonda, revenue clearing officer Zvakanyorwa Mazano and land survey technician Austin Tapiwanashe as beneficiaries of the stands scam.
Council operator Tapiwa Gona, survey assistant Tonderayi Mukora, district officer Kuwadzana Rudo Chigocha, meter reader Tineyi Kureva and water technician Gideon Machaya also feature on the list.
Chisango wrote to public safety head Moyo on December 24, issuing the directive.
“I am pleased to inform you that with immediate effect, you will cease to report to the Chamber Secretary and report to the Town Clerk. This has been necessitated by the current restructuring exercise.
“You are therefore instructed to report to my office, or contact me immediately for further instructions.”
In response, the acting Chamber Secretary Charles Kandemiri said “council authority should be sought first” to legalise the new directive.
He wrote to Chisango on December 28, that, “The inherent change to the Chamber Secretary is noted. I have no problem with the development. However, there may have been oversight concerning procedural compliance.
“In my considered view, for a proper restructuring entailing change of organograms, council authority should be sought first.”
The dramatic return of Chisango has also caught the attention of central government as Harare Metropolitan provincial coordinator Tafadzwa Muguti questioned how suspended council employees wormed back to office.
“Please be advised that employees who are currently out on bail should not be allowed back at work until investigations and the cases are concluded at the courts. We note with concern that employees currently out on bail are colluding with some council officials to be reinstated or elevated to senior positions within council in order to influence ongoing investigations….as well as intimidating other members from testifying.
“We are also seriously concerned that promotions are being awarded to the same employees as a reward for protecting their interests. I, therefore, urge all local authorities to respect all ongoing investigations and desist from moving staff around as a way of hiding corrupt activities,” Muguti wrote to Chawatama, on December 3.
Chawatama declined to comment as he referred questions to acting Mayor Stewart Mutizwa.
Local Government and Public Works minister July Moyo did not respond to questions by the time of going to print.