HARARE – Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere says police should now move in to arrest “corrupt” Chitungwiza councillors, who he suspended a fortnight ago on graft charges.
Kasukuwere suspended all Chitungwiza councillors, who are predominately drawn from the opposition, drawing the ire of some who felt that the Zanu PF minister is out to weaken the MDC ahead of next year’s elections.
However, speaking in Parliament last week, after presenting the ministerial statement on the Chitungwiza suspensions, Kasukuwere said councillors from the satellite town were disregarding a ministerial circular that had capped their sitting allowances.
“The legal position in terms of the law is very clear. The minister is empowered to do what I am doing, so, we are basically following the law. We will also invite the police who have an open invitation. The police do not have to wait for the minister to say come because where there is detection of a crime, the police must just move in and do what they do best, and carry out the relevant arrests,” he said.
“The funds that they collect – how do you justify a situation where councillors sit, they undermine the circulars that we have written from $65 and $95, they go to $300 per diem? In other words, whatever is coming their way is meant to enrich individuals,” he said.
“There was a time when there was connivance that the workers would say increase our salaries and also increase your allowance. When people get $300 in allowances per day, they will just require 10 days to receive $3 000 untaxed and put it in their wallets…but there is nothing that is beyond the glare of the public, no matter how hidden the venue might be.”
The Local Government minister added that land barons were a cancer not only in Chitungwiza but countrywide.
Kasukuwere said land barons are not the only problem but have established syndicates that include council employees and councillors.
“You (Eddie Cross) were dead right in your statistics that somebody sells 13 000 stands at $45 000 each and they put in their pocket $54 million not only in Chitungwiza but across many sectors and many cities in our country…this is the amount of money that our local authorities are losing to individuals who claim to own land and sell it and it is indeed a serious cause for concern.
“If these land barons were to go unchecked, they can become a law unto themselves. They can become dangerous to the stability of our country and we have seen it and we will see more in the future.”
“You have towns, Kuwadzana for instance, as you are driving to Bulawayo to your left there is a new unplanned development that is coming up there just before the stream and there is no water.
“I am saying collectively as Zimbabweans, can we live with this kind of corruption? Under there, there is the sewer and so forth yet councillors have found a way of giving phone numbers to middlemen who sit in hotels selling that piece of land,” Kasukuwere said.
He added that the ministry would do everything within its power to ensure that councils are not milked dry by elected officials.