The Sunday News
Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
LOCAL Government and Public Works Minister Cde July Moyo has ordered Victoria Falls Mayor, Councillor Somveli Dlamini to stop interfering in the day-to-day management of the city and concentrate on his constitutional mandate of policy making.
The country’s newest city has since the start of the year been characterised by what residents have termed boardroom fights which saw Clr Dlamini suspending incumbent Town Clerk, Mr Ronnie Dube in April accusing him of corruption, gross incompetence, abuse of office and causing the local authority to lose revenue.
Councillors revoked the suspension before Cde Moyo verbally suspended Mr Dube on 14 May after Dube had appeared in court facing a charge of criminal abuse of duty as a public officer. He is out on bail.
The issue divided council which set up a commission of inquiry chaired by the city’s former Mayor, Alderman Nkosilathi Jiyane.
The commission found no wrong doing by Mr Dube and stated that the charges could have emanated from personal vendettas and lack of trust within council. The commission recommended that Mr Dube be reinstated, which was done.
The commission also said the council has a lot of work to do especially in policy making.
The city’s Chamber Secretary Ms Kholwani Mangena is the acting town clerk in the absence of Mr Dube who is on leave.
In a recent incident, the mayor caused the suspension of City Engineer Sherinah Sibanda in July on similar allegations that included abuse of office, incompetence, failure to service projects to the prejudice of council, failure to provide water as some areas had reportedly been dry for more than six months.
She was also accused of failure to attend to storm water drains and burst sewer pipes, approval of building plan on top of water pipe and charging residents a building inspection fee. Council set up a commission of inquiry which was chaired by Masvingo Mayor Councillor Collen Maboke, a lawyer by profession.
The commission recommended that it was not within the mayor’s jurisdiction to fire the engineer as that should have been done by the Town Clerk in terms of the Urban Councils Act. The engineer was also then reinstated as there was no basis for her suspension.
That followed a council resolution on 19 August that investigations be conducted regarding some issues raised against the town engineer.
An internal memo written by the acting town clerk, dated 24 August and seen by this publication read: “Following the council meeting held on the 19th of August 2021 to investigate the allegations against the town engineer, I would like to advise that from the advice given by our human resources, our organisation does not have experts who have capacity to investigate the issue internally and therefore we will have to get assistance from at least two engineers to look into the issues raised.”
On 24 August, the acting town clerk wrote to Cde Moyo requesting that Government seconds an engineer to look into the allegations as the local authority had no one with that capacity. The allegations levelled against the engineer were also attached to the letter. In response, Cde Moyo ordered Clr Dlamini to stop meddling in council management issues.
“It has come to my attention that you are becoming fully involved in council administration issues which are completely outside your policy making purview as shown by the charge sheet you drafted for the town engineer, an action which was supposed to be done by the acting town clerk.
“The statues that govern your conduct specify that councillors are not to interfere in the management or administration of any department or purport to give any instruction to any employee of the council except when authorised to do so by council or the town clerk/secretary.
“Having council operate in this manner cannot be condoned as this is outside council regulations.
In view of the above, kindly correct the anomaly,” read the minister’s letter dated 31 August and seen by Sunday News, and copied to Minister of State for Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs and Devolution Cde Richard Moyo, Provincial
Development Co-ordinator Ms Sithandiwe Ncube and the acting town clerk. The mayor yesterday said he was not aware of the letter from Cde Moyo. — @ncubeleon