BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
BULAWAYO City Council (BCC) senior executives allegedly helped themselves to 3 000 litres of diesel originally allocated for refuse collection, road maintenance and other crucial services, it has emerged.
Ironically, the local authority repeatedly claims its service delivery efficacy is hampered by fuel shortages.
The alleged diversion of the fuel came to light after BCC acting director of road workshops Dalithemba Sibanda appeared before an internal disciplinary board instituted by Makhosi Tshalebwa, the BCC human capital director last week.
The diverted diesel was part of the 20 000 litres specially procured for service delivery between December last year and February this year.
The fuel was delivered and stored at the Khami Rd Main Stores.
“Between January 11 and February 26 this year, the accused person issued several requisitions to Stores instructing the Stores Controller to issue fuel to fuel tankers that were purportedly said to belong to Asphalt Products (Pvt) Ltd, a contractor that had won the contract to undertake road works in the city,” a BCC source said.
“In February this year, the contractor ran out of fuel before completion of the project and was asked why he could not complete the works as per the contract after having been paid in advance and he explained that he had not received fuel and was expecting 10 000 litres,” the source said.
The source further said an internal audit was carried out, which recommended that Sibanda should explain the discrepancy.
“He failed to give a satisfactory answer, resulting in his suspension pending disciplinary hearing. In the hearing Sibanda apologised and explained that when he did this, he was under the direct instructions from his superiors (Town clerk Christopher Dube and Engineering Services director Simela Dube) and as such believed what he was doing was above board.”
BCC town clerk Dube declined to comment on the matter for fear it could jeopardise investigations.
“The matter is still under investigation. I cannot comment before due processes are conducted and concluded. We have to allow due processes to take place,” Dube said.
However, the Affirmative Action Group (AAG) hit out at the council for not reporting the matter to the police as the black empowerment lobby group accused city fathers of aiding corruption.
“What is surprising in this case is that no police report was made and Sibanda despite being found guilty got away with a written warning,” AAG chief executive officer Denzel Sita said.
The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission last year launched an investigation into council operations from reports of graft involving councillors and management.
The probe led to the arrest of a council director.