The recently-appointed commission to run the affairs of Chitungwiza has reinstated axed director of urban planning services, Conrad Muchesa.
By Albert Masaka
The reinstatement was done during the committee’s first meeting, in a controversial move that has caused apprehension among residents.
A Chitungwiza Residents Trust board member, Brighton Mazhindu on Friday castigated the decision to reinstate Muchesa as “dubious”, saying residents felt that he was brought back to cover up for his illegal activities at council.
“We feel this will jeopardise investigations on land management and allocation as Muchesa himself is involved in the illegal parcelling of land together with the suspended councillors,” Mazhindu said.
Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere recently cracked the whip and suspended all the 25 Chitungwiza councillors, including mayor Phillip Mutoti, accusing them of stealing state land and sharing it among themselves, thus prejudicing the local authority of over $7 million, among other corruption charges.
Kasukuwere then appointed a three-member caretaker council led by Civil Protection Unit director Madzudzo Pawadyira, Chitungwiza district administrator Zivai Chisango and a former Zanu PF councillor only identified as Mabhiza, to run the town’s affairs.
According to a memo to all heads of department from the chamber secretary, a C Maunga dated May 9 2017 on implementation of resolutions of the first caretaker council meeting held on May 9 2017, it was resolved “that the resolution that was passed by council to retrench Mr C Muchesa and downgrading the position of director of urban planning services be hereby rescinded.
“Muchesa was then reinstated to his post as director of urban planning services without loss of salary and benefits with effect from the date of this meeting, May 9 2017,” reads the memo.
Council fired Muchesa in December last year, two years after his Grade 15 post was made redundant having been abolished on the organogram approved by the Local Government ministry in 2014.
Pawadyira told The Standard on Friday that according to their assessment, Muchesa had been a thorn in the flesh of suspended councillors because of his “intimate knowledge of the planning processes and management of land in Chitungwiza”.
“Most of the recommendations and findings of the audit report which is guiding our intentions in Chitungwiza relate to the issue of land management, or the lack of it. The commission required the services of an officer to enable it to quickly identify the errant areas which need rectification, hence our invitation to restore Muchesa’s position in council,” Pawadyira said.
“We want to communicate with the people of Chitungwiza in general, the press and other organised groups within the community, so as to engender a climate of openness in the administration of the town.”
Documents show that Muchesa himself had responded to his dismissal, requesting council to offer him the position of town planner which is approved on the organogram.
Council denied him the request, arguing that he should apply for it like any other applicant when the position is advertised.
The delay in firing him and the renewed resolve to axe him soon after details of an internal audit report were first exposed by our sister newspaper, NewsDay raised suspicion among residents that it was a plot to stifle the findings in the report.
The audit report alleged that several councillors and workers had usurped the role of the planning department by conniving to identify undeveloped stands and submitting land for verification and allocation to the department of housing in a well-orchestrated scam.