US$380 000 car scandal rocks Bikita RDC
BIKITA – In a move that has enraged residents, seven Bikita Rural District Council senior managers obtained an estimated US$350 000 loan through a council facility and used the funds to buy state of the art vehicles for each other.
The vehicles are personal bought through a council loan.
The Mirror is told that the acquisition takes place at a time when council’s 50 workers have gone for two months without a salary and service delivery is described as shambolic.
Meanwhile, council chairman Benjamin Masakadza also took into his custody a council vehicle and is keeping it at his home in Mashoko in violation of regulations.
Six Toyota GD6 singles cabs costing US$40 000 each were delivered last week and immediately transferred into the names of Namatirai Gezera (Chakare) (Administrator), Philimon Madara (Finance Officer) Morgan Madhura (Social Services and Community Officer), Arnold Mutuke (engineer) Never Mavhuna (internal auditor) and Boniface Nerumedzo (Planning and Housing Officer).
Boas Mutendi, a member of Nyika business community expressed shock at the extravagancy and blatant flouting of regulations.
Bikita Residents and Ratepayers Association (BIRRA) acting secretary general, Mark Mutengani said his organisation is sending a petition to the Minister over the issue. He said that the resolution was secretly passed during the lockdown period.
“We are dumbfounded that the chairman has taken a council vehicle to his homestead while top officials bought themselves top of the range vehicles. This is corruption,” said Mutengani.
The vehicles have yellow number plates to indicate that they are not council property.
Peter Chibhi, the Chief Executive Officer is said to have gone for the more imposing Toyota Land Cruiser at a cost of US$140 000. The vehicle is yet to be delivered.
Chibhi confirmed the arrangement and said that there was a council resolution to support it. He added that council took the loan on behalf of the managers and the beneficiaries will pay back the loan in full. The repayment period is five years.
Masakadza however, dismissed Chibhi’s statement and said managers will in fact pay half the loan and the other half will be paid by the ratepayers.
Chibhi could not comment on the issue of salary backlog.
“We are shocked that management at council are spoiling themselves with luxury vehicles at a time when the economy is performing badly. We have poor health service in the district and people have no access to clean water and yet senior managers prioritise luxury vehicles and ignore people’s plight,” said Mutendi.
Sources alleged that Masakadza was part of the scam and he signed the deal after he was promised a new vehicle. Masakadza was evasive on the issue.
He however, confirmed that he had taken custody of a council vehicle.
“The vehicles were bought by a loan after a council resolution to do so. Council will pay half of the loan while the employees will pay the remainder,” said Masakadza.
Sources said Masakadza impounded the council vehicle after realising that management had duped him by not buying a new vehicle for him.
Chibhi also said that it was council that passed a resolution for Masakadza to keep a council vehicle at home. He however, said that the resolution needed the Minister’s ascend.
“The chairman took the vehicle after a council resolution. We are however, waiting for the Minister’s approval,” said Chibhi.