BY NOKUTHABA DLAMINI
Victoria Falls residents have called for a lifestyle audit for councillors and the local authority’s management following allegations of massive corruption in the MDC Alliance-led city council.
The calls were made at a public meeting held at Chinotimba Hall that was convened by war veterans’ leadership from Matabeleland North on Friday to discuss the chaos at the local authority, which was attended by over 300 people.
Residents are agitating for investigations into the local authority following the arrest of mayor Somvelo Dhlamini a week ago on fraud allegations amid allegations that town clerk Ronnie Dube and other councillors were also involved in corrupt activities related to the parcelling out of commercial stands.
The Victoria Falls Combined Residents Association (Vifacora) claims that it has evidence that Dube and some councillors sold a prime commercial stand number 8300 for US$4 million instead of US$14 million before councillors and some senior managers shared US$400 000 that was paid as a bribe by the lowest bidder.
Vifacora secretary general Trymore Ndolo told meeting that the matter came to light when the MDC Alliance councillors started fighting among each other during the sharing of the spoils from the corrupt deal.
“They sold our land for US$4.2 million, how can land depreciate from US$14 million?” Ndolo queried.
“I’ll be clear and straightforward, some of the councillors came to us as Vifacora to report that they told us that when stand 8300 (comes up for discussion) we should agree to the sale as there was going to be bribery money and they surely got US$ 400 000 and this is why they have been fighting against each other”.
He said council also sold stand 1811 to a councillor without a resolution as per regulations.
“(Stand) 1811 is the size of a stadium and cannot be sold to a councillor, and that stand was valued at US$ 5 million,” Ndolo added.
“We protested even to the mayor at a full council meeting resolution where we were called to endorse its sale in bond (RTGS) and we’ve got all the information.
“The people, who were the masterminds (are known) and we queried how a stand worth US$ 5 million can be sold for $11 million.
“So this is what residents have been arguing about and we are saying there should be a lifestyle audit of everyone involved in these corrupt deals.”
A resident, who spoke at the meeting, said some councillors were living beyond their means.
The resident queried: “How can someone who was known for selling sweets on the streets within a short period after being elected as a councillor have a fleet of cars?
“How much would that person be earning to own such (property) and we would like our elderly people (war veterans) to spearhead a campaign for a lifestyle audit.”
Dube and some councillors are at loggerheads with residents and war veterans over the corruption allegations that have resulted in poor service delivery.
Some residents have gone for several months without water and other parts of the city experience continuous sewer pipe bursts.
Over 300 residents have signed a petition urging Parliament to investigate the corruption allegations.
War veterans Matabeleland North chairperson Boniface Sibanda told the meeting that corruption and infighting in the local authority led to Dhlamini’s arrest.
The former liberation war fighters are accusing Dube of conniving with the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission to cover-up the alleged corruption by engineering Dhlamini’s arrest while shielding Dube.
Police Hunt For A Nkayi Murder Fugitive
BY STAFF REPORTER
A Nkayi man is reportedly on the run after allegedly assaulting a fellow villager with an unknown object on the head on New Year’s Day.
Police have identified the fugitive at Joinisa Tshuma from Dabe village who is being sought for a murder charge.
“ZRP is appealing for information which may lead to the arrest of Joinisa Tshuma who is being sought in connection with a case of murder in which Mcebisi Moyo died on 07/01/24,” police appealed.
“The suspect allegedly assaulted the victim on the head with an unknown object near a bush in Dabe Village, Nkayi on 01/01/24 before he fled the scene.”
According to police, the victim sustained some head injuries and he was admitted at Nkayi District Hospital where he succumbed to the injuries.
Meanwhile, Police in Machipisa are also investigating a case of murder which occurred on Wednesday, in which a yet to be identified male adult approximately aged 30 years who was wearing a yellow t-shirt, black trousers, black gum boots and a black cap, was found lying dead with a stab wound on the back near Mapuranga Transport Service Garage in Harare.
Police are also appealing to the public with information surrounding the incident.
“Anyone with information to report at any nearest Police Station.”
Full ZRP Statement on Armed Robberies Raiding Elite Schools
As the schools open, parents and guardians are in the process of paying school fees, levies and other related school costs, for their children.
School authorities are therefore urged to deposit all monies at financial institutions to curb armed robbery cases.
The issue of collecting cash by school authorities at schools should be reconsidered given the recent armed robbery cases.
The Police has recorded armed robbery cases in Bulawayo and Chinhoyi in which schools are being targeted.
In one of the cases, unknown suspects pounced at George Silundika High School at corner George Silundika Street and Third Avenue, Bulawayo on 06th January 2024, where they stole US$17 280.00 cash which was in a cash box.
In another case which occurred at Lomagundi College, Chinhoyi on 09th January 2024, 12 unknown suspects attacked security guards before stealing an undisclosed amount of cash, a Mazda Tribute motor vehicle, cellphones and laptops, among other valuables.
School authorities are urged to step up security measures at schools and employ guards from reputable security service providers who constantly monitor and review deployments.
Above all, school authorities should install CCTV at points of entry and administration offices.
The Zimbabwe Republic Police is concerned that some of these robbery cases are resulting from leakage of information.
Members of the public are warned that those who provide inside information to robbery syndicates will be arrested.
Police crack teams are firm on the ground and will pounce on armed robbery syndicates for the law to take its course in earnest.
ARTUZ condemns government for opening of school amid Cholera outbreak
BY NOKUTHABA DLAMINI
The Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) has condemned the government’s decision to reopen schools due to the cholera outbreak wreaking havoc in most parts of the country, labeling the move reckless and disregarding the pressing concerns raised by parents and teachers.
Statistics released by the Ministry of Health and Child Care last week showed since the outbreak of cholera, Zimbabwe has recorded 15 137 suspected cholera cases, 1 759 confirmed cases, 14 578 recoveries, 67 confirmed deaths and 266 suspected deaths.
“We vehemently condemn the government’s reckless decision to open schools amidst the widespread cholera outbreak, completely disregarding the pressing concerns raised by parents and teachers,” reads the statement.
“We demand that the government immediately mobilize substantial resources to ensure the safe reopening of schools because our children deserve nothing less than a secure and conducive learning environment.
“It is the duty of the government to provide sanitary solutions and ensure the safety and well-being of our children.
The union also called on the government to consider an upward increment of teachers’ salaries, criticizing the government’s lack of engagement with educators, particularly regarding their ongoing demand for a US$1 260 salary.
“Also, it is utterly disappointing to witness such a hasty move without even bothering to engage with the educators who have been tirelessly advocating for a just salary of US$1260.
“The safety and welfare of our students and teachers should be the utmost priority, but it seems that the government is callously neglecting this responsibility.
“It is high time for the government to prioritize the well-being of our education system and take meaningful action to address the urgent needs of our dedicated teachers. ”
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