New Zimbabwe.com

Bulawayo chaos, skeletons tumble: Town Clerk in gold mine scam

By Richard Chidza/Leopold Munhende

THE chaos rocking Bulawayo City Council power corridors took a new twist Thursday after all MDC councillors who constitute the council met party’s deputy secretary for local government Clifford Hlatshwayo in Harare for a crisis meeting.

Insiders who attended the meeting told NewZimbabwe.com that Bulawayo Mayor Solomon Mguni did not attend the meeting.

His decision to reverse Town Clerk Christopher Dube’s suspension by his deputy Tinashe Kambarami has raised the spectre of factionalism within the main opposition.

“The Mayor (Mguni) did not attend as he stayed behind to receive the investigating team from the government. All other councillors attended and it was shocking. Bulawayo City Council owns several farms around it in which there are gold claims.

“Dube is said to have pushed for a resolution to have the gold mines leased before grabbing one in which he pays only a token to the city,” a source said.

Dube clashed with Kambarami last week after the latter attempted to suspend him on allegations of incompetence and outright theft among a slew of charges.

In response, Dube alleged in an angry rant that his suspension could be motivated by latent tribal differences existing within the MDC dominated council by accusing Kambarami of “fronting a Shona agenda.”

His reaction triggered protests by ultra-tribal Mthwakazi Liberation Front (MLF) amid claims some Shona speaking councillors were physically attacked in the city.

This prompted MDC leader Nelson Chamisa to summon all party councillors to Harare for a meeting that was chaired by Clifford Hlatshwayo.

Another source said the Councillors told Hlatswayo that Bulawayo has also lost over $4 million from one of its accounts.

“Council has a retention account in which money for emergencies is kept. There was about $5 million in that account but it has since been realised that only $800 000 remains. Over $4 million cannot be accounted for and the Town Clerk can’t explain himself,” it was claimed.

“The Town Clerk was also supposed to buy stand-by water pumps and did not so. There is a feeling that he is deliberately sabotaging council in order to paint it in bad light.”

Sources said Dube is now being supported “by people who stood or stand to benefit from the looting he is fronting.”

Party Deputy Secretary for Local Government Clifford Hlatshwayo confirmed the allegations and said that they had recommended that a Special Committee of the council be set up to investigate the allegations as they could not be swept under the carpet.

“We resolved that the status quo must remain and the suspension be reversed. However, allegations against the Town Clerk have to be investigated.

“We have recommended that council sets up a Special Committee to investigate the allegations. We must not rubbish these allegations,” said Hlatshwayo.

Another source close to developments intimated that Organising Secretary Amos Chibaya will head a high-powered party delegation to Bulawayo to de-escalate the volatile situation that has whipped up tribal emotions.

Hlatshwayo however said that they had not discussed tribalism claims around the issue as councillors did not raise it as a challenge affecting their operations at BCC and had stayed clear of discussing issues around onslaughts by the MLF and other Ndebele dominated pressure groups.