MASVINGO – The Ministry of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development is going to investigate an alleged US$380 000 car scam in which Bikita Rural District Council officials bought personal cars using a council loan.
This was said by Minister July Moyo.
He told The Mirror in a telephone interview that he would want to find if there is a resolution to that arrangement and if it is, he said he would seek to reverse it.
He castigated Bikita RDC chairman Benjamin Masakadza for allowing such a transaction to take place under his nose and emphasised that the chairman’s mandate is to protect the interests of the rate payers.
He said council resolutions should prioritise development and called upon Masakadza to rescind the decision and prioritise rate payers. He said he will be able to give further details after the investigations.
The matter is that Bikita RDC recently bought 6 personal Toyota GD6 vehicles for its managers at an estimated cost of US$ 40 000 each. Council borrowed the money and the cars were on delivery registered in the names of the six managers. Bikita RDC CEO Peter Chibhi is still waiting for the delivery of his vehicle whose cost is estimated at US$ 140 000.
Chibhi confirmed the deal to The Mirror.
He however, said that the managers were going to repay the full loan but a source told The Mirror that the six heads of department will pay just 50% and the rest will come from the rate payers.
In what is akin to a looting spree, the chairman took custody of his official vehicle and he now keeps it at his home in Mashoko in violation of regulations for such cars.
Both Chibhi and Masakadza confirmed the arrangement concerning the chairman’s car which they also said is a result of a council resolution. Chibhi however told The Mirror that the arrangement is yet to be ascended to by the Minister of Local Government.
Moyo lambasted the chairman for taking over a council vehicle and told The Mirror that there is no resolution that could support that.
“The council chair cannot take a council vehicle to his home as he is not an executive official. Council can only buy him a car which he can use when conducting council business,” said Moyo.
Residents are up in arms with the deal whose resolution was secretly struck by councillors during the Covid19 lockdown. Bikita Residents and Ratepayers Association (BIRRA) vowed to write a petition to Minister Moyo.
“Our policy as Government is to ensure development. The council chair is the implementing officer on the ground. He should be the one answering questions on what happened. I am going to make an investigation into the resolution,” said Moyo.https://masvingomirror.com/