The Sunday News
Vusumuzi Dube, Senior Reporter
THE Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has once again attracted the attention of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) after 10 000 litres of diesel meant for major road projects disappeared from its roads department.
The local authority reportedly conducted an internal investigation on the matter where the acting director of roads, Mr Dalithemba Sibanda, got away with just a written warning.
A survey by this publication yesterday showed that one litre of diesel in Bulawayo is going for US$1.35, which translates to US$13 500 for 10 000 litres.
The anti-graft body is said to have since intervened in the matter. Confirming the Zacc investigation, Bulawayo Town Clerk Mr Christopher Dube said they had since supplied the anti-graft body with all the documents relating to the matter which they had requested for further investigations.
He revealed that when the internal audit unearthed the scam, they had instructed the director of engineering services, Engineer Simela Dube to follow council channels in disciplining Mr Sibanda.
“It is unfortunate that when this matter was first unearthed, I instructed the head of the department, Eng Dube to institute further investigations and proceed with internal disciplinary measures, after that I did not follow up on the issue to find out how the director had dealt with it.
“However, to my understanding the fuel was later recovered hence the local authority was not prejudiced anyhow. Zacc have also approached us over the matter, we have given them all the documentation to aid their investigations,” said Mr Dube.
According to sources close to the investigations, it is alleged that Mr Sibanda appeared before an internal disciplinary committee that was led by the acting director of human capital, Mr Makhosi Tshalebwa, last month.
“The audit findings had indicated that between December last year and February, council received 20 000 litres of diesel for service delivery and road projects.
“The fuel was delivered and stored at the Khami Road main stores. Between January 11 and February 26, Mr Sibanda allegedly 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.
“Sometime in February, 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, which Mr Sibanda could not account for,” said the source.
Mr Sibanda was initially suspended but after the disciplinary hearing he was assigned new duties within the same department. Commenting on the matter, local government analyst, Dr Rodrick Fayayo said residents must demand accountability from the city council.
“There is something fundamentally wrong at Bulawayo City Council. The residents need to make a choice, demand accountability now or just keep silent and let the city deteriorate further.
“That unfortunately has consequences for the future and our kids,” said Dr Fayayo.