The Sunday News
Vusumuzi Dube, Online News Editor
SUSPENDED Umguza Rural District Council chairperson, Mr Alexandra Gasela has said while he accepts his suspension, he is innocent of the charges laid against him.
Mr Gasela was suspended together with four other councillors and RDC chief executive officer, Mr Collen Moyo.
The four other suspended councillors were the deputy chairperson, Ms Sisa Moyo, Ms Mary Shelton, Mr David Moyo and Mr Ernest Sibanda, who constituted the council’s disciplinary committee, which was chaired by Ms Moyo.
Their suspension was announced by the Government, for the role they played in unscrupulously reinstating Mr Moyo despite his suspension by the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works following a wave of corruption allegations.
In a telephone interview after his suspension, Mr Gasela said while he had accepted his suspension, he felt he was unfairly included in the firing line as he had not been part of the process that reinstated the embattled CEO.
“What happened is as council we agreed that the matter be handled by the disciplinary committee which I am not even part of, rather it was led by the council deputy chairperson. It is this committee that carried out their investigations and came to council with a report where they said the CEO had done nothing wrong. They further made a unanimous resolution that the CEO be reinstated, which they presented to council, not to me, but the entire council,” said Mr Gasela.
Questioned on allegations that they were protecting the CEO despite the numerous complaints against him and a number of workers, Mr Gasela refuted the allegations saying they had followed the necessary processes to the book.
“The fact that this matter was referred to our disciplinary committee shows our sincerity in getting to the bottom of this. We followed all the laid down procedures when we get such allegations, and up to now we are willing to co-operate with all the authorities as they conduct the necessary investigations,” said Mr Gasela.
Meanwhile, affected individuals have applauded the move taken by the Government in suspending the six officials noting that the corruption at the local authority was so deep rooted such that there were fears that the RDC’s officials were busy burying evidence so as to avoid prosecution.
“We have been constantly saying that something has to be done at Umguza RDC because we lost a lot of money to those officials, we are happy now that Government listened to our calls. Further, we wish to applaud the Government and hope this serves as a warning to all corrupt individuals that the long arm of the law will eventually catch up with them, they should not act as if they are untouchable,” said Mr Blessing Makamu who in May led a demonstration at the RDC’s offices in Bulawayo over the alleged corruption.
The investigation, which led to Mr Moyo’s suspension was mainly focused on the allocation and repossession of agri-plots in Montgomery with people reportedly paying up to US$1 000 as bribes so as to get the plots. The plots are also sold in foreign currency by the council.
Commenting after the suspensions, Deputy Minister of Local Government and Public Works, Cde Marian Chombo said her ministry will continue to deal decisively with councils which are bent on abuse of office, corruption, those who deliberately choose not to release important information to investigators in an effort to obstruct the course of justice including those who deliberately ill-treat and disrespect their clients against the council’s reason for establishment.
She revealed that the ministry will be daily micro-managing the local authority and will also be visiting the offices fortnightly to observe whether the local authority was putting into effect recommendations that were made by the Ministerial Commission of Inquiry and the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc).