THE Zvimba Rural District Council has reportedly been turned into a battleground after council chairperson Tsitsi Kaja pressed charges against acting chief executive Emmanuel Chitombo for criminal abuse office.
However, Local Government minister July Moyo immediately suspended Kaja from the position of council chairman and Ward 5 councillor on allegations of gross misconduct and abuse of office.
According to the suspension letter, Moyo accused Kaja of stalling the council’s recovery plan by firing Chitombo while failing to timeously implement recommendations from an investigation report from last year.
“You stalled Zvimba Rural District Council’s recovery plan by dismissing the acting chief executive officer without following proper procedure,” Moyo said in the suspension letter.
Moyo also accused Kaja of failing to resolve the land issue in Nyabira by engaging an alleged conflicted and interested lawyer he identified as Mr Mashizha.
The local government minister alleged that Mashizha was also representing Blackdawn Investment in a case against the Zivimba RDC “thereby creating a dubious relationship between council and Blackdawn Investments”.
Kaja is also accused of failing to recover the underpayment of stands by councillors as directed in an audit report of 2019 saying this was against the ministry’s policy.
Meanwhile, Kaja on Saturday reported Chitombo, who was seconded to the Zvimba RDC in June last year after the suspension of former chief executive Peter Hlohla a month before, to the police accusing him of signing a deed of settlement without a council resolution.
Chitombo works in the Mashonaland West provincial administrator’s office and is based in Chinhoyi.
According to a statement recorded at Zvimba Police Station on Saturday last week, Kaja accused Chitombo of signing the deed of settlement with Devine and Trust Company (DATCO) on January 13 without council’s knowledge.
The deed gave DATCO control of 259,925 hectares of unserviced land.
Kaja said the matter only came to council’s attention a week later when the documents were filed.
According to the statement this was done outside the acting chief executive’s terms of reference.
“The accused unlawfully instructed the head of engineering department to approve engineering designs for DATCO without proof of payments which the engineer refused to approve thereby we were enlightened of the elicit deals done by the accused against the rural district council,” Kaja said in her statement to the police.
“Potential prejudice of council was imminent if the engineer had agreed to take instructions without payment of the approved engineering designs.
“Prejudice of council land measuring 259.925 ha of land to council was done as a result,” she added.
A copy of the deed of settlement seen by this publication said that there was a dispute between the two parties over the development of 429, 4907 hectares of land which the two parties had agreed to.
“Whereas Applicant entered a land development partnership with the Respondent in terms of which the Applicant would service the Respondent’s land being the remainder of sub-division “C” of Lilfordia Farm measuring 429, 4907 hectares.
“In return, the Respondent would pay the Applicant for the services by way of land equivalent to 60% of the serviced land.
“A dispute arose and the parties went to arbitration rendered an award in favour of the Respondent,” the deed of settlement said.
The matter was still before the courts but according to the deed of settlement the “parties discussed and amicably resolved the issues between themselves and wish to record the settlement as final resolution of the matter”.
“As compensation for the land development services rendered by the applicant to the respondent, the respondent shall allow the applicant to dispose or take ownership of 259,925 hectares being portion of the remainder of subdivision “c” of Lifordia farm marked phase 1 of the layout plan (herein after called the property,” the deed added.
Chitombo’s secondment to council was due to end on 31 January, but was cut short following last week’s urgent special human resources meeting which resolved to suspend him pending a probe.
Kaja also confirmed that council had had a meeting to discuss Chitombo’s fate.
“Indeed, a special HR (human resources) meeting was held…but what you have to appreciate is that CEO was on secondment and his contract expired this January,” she said.
She also confirmed Chitombo was under the police investigation after a report was lodged over allegations of abusing his office to dish out land to Datco and Delatfin Property Developers.
Issues of corruption at Zvimba RDC have claimed several scalps including former chief executive Hlohla and some former councillors who have been arrested on various charges after questioning land deals involving senior government officials.