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Gweru town clerk challenges suspension

by Staff reporter
07 Mar 2023 at 05:24hrs | Views
SUSPENDED Gweru City Council (GCC) acting town clerk Mr Vakayi Douglas Chikwekwe is challenging his employer's decision to suspend him, arguing that his suspension letter contradicts what is contained in the special council resolution.

Mr Chikwekwe was suspended last week following his arrest by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) for allegedly violating tender procedures resulting in companies Sheasham, Casas and Wackdrive winning tenders to service Mkoba 21 and Randolph Phase 1 suburb stands.

He appeared for initial remand before Gweru magistrate Ms Miriam Banda facing a charge of criminal abuse of office and was remanded out of custody to March 17 on $100 000 bail.

Soon after his arrest, GCC served Mr Chikwekwe with a suspension letter stating reasons, some of which include failure to coordinate, monitor and supervise all departments thereby resulting in employees working in silos and consequently affecting service delivery.

The council also stated that there was negligence of duty on Mr Chikwekwe's part, which resulted in the council being prejudiced financially.

"There was gross incompetence on your part, and the council is greatly concerned about your continuous failure in discharging your duties diligently as expected resulting in the council failing to properly operate," reads part of the suspension letter.

"You have flouted or violated Public Procurement and Debt Management Act, and there was a continuous exhibition of inconsistency in the discharge of your duties."

The local authority has since appointed finance director Mr Livingstone Churu as the acting town clerk.

However, Mr Chikwekwe, through his lawyer Mr Admire Rubaya of Rubaya and Chatambudza Legal Practitioners, has written

to the council seeking clarity and challenging the suspension.

Mr Rubaya said they are finding it difficult to explore legal options because of the contradictions in the two documents.

He argued that his client is just a council employee with no power to award any tender, adding that it was a collective decision by councillors during a special council meeting.

"Our client is concerned with clear selective amnesia on the part of the council members relating to the memorandum of agreements for the servicing of Mkoba 21 and Randolph Phase 1 by Sheasham, Casas and Wackdrive. It should be noted that our client is just a council official who does not make decisions during council meetings," said Mr Rubaya.

He claimed that Mr Chikwekwe's arrest is an abuse of the criminal justice system by political players for political expedience.

Mr Rubaya said Mr Chikwekwe had no role in the signing and awarding of the tenders as it was done by his predecessors.

He queried the decision to exonerate former Mayor Josiah Makombe who allegedly signed as the council representative.

"In the circumstances, where it is alleged that there was unlawfulness in the process of awarding the tender to Sheasham, Wackdrive and Casas, the million-dollar question is what about Cllr Makombe who signed the agreements as well?" quizzed Mr Rubaya.

"We will be approaching the High Court on an urgent basis if a special committee of inquiry set against him is not disbanded as it is made up of people who were part of the tender awarding process."

Mr Rubaya said it is unjust and unfair for councillors to constitute the committee, arguing that his client would not have a fair disciplinary hearing.

"It is our client's considered view that he did nothing wrong and neither did he act in any manner which can be adjudged to be criminal in terms of the laws of Zimbabwe. It seems as if the powers that be within the council are abusing the criminal justice system and Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission," he said.

Mr Rubaya said Mr Chikwekwe said there are some councillors who are abusing their powers to protect themselves and have allegedly embarked on a frolic of their own to protect themselves.

"It is therefore clear that our client being a mere council employee has no vote in council or decision-making powers to pass council resolution. He did not make the decision to award the alleged tenders, but the council in its wisdom as constituted by 16 councillors made the ultimate decision to award the tenders to the specific companies," said Mr Rubaya.

Council is yet to respond to the letter.

Source - The Chronicle
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