Gweru acting town clerk resigns

Gweru city council

SUSPENDED Gweru City Council acting town clerk Mr Vakayi Douglas Chikwekwe has resigned and blamed a group of councillors for alleged unethical behaviour that made his tenure difficult.

Mr Chikwekwe, who was the council’s substantive chamber secretary, was appointed acting town clerk following the suspension of the town clerk, Ms Elizabeth Gwatipedza.

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

He appeared before Gweru magistrate Ms Miriam Banda facing one count of criminal abuse of office and was remanded out of custody on $100 000 bail.

The matter is still pending before the courts.

After his arrest, council suspended Mr Chikwekwe accusing him of failure to coordinate, monitor and supervise all departments, thereby resulting in employees working in silos which consequently affected service delivery.

The local authority accused him of negligence of duty which resulted in the council being prejudiced financially.

After his suspension, Mr Chikwekwe was supposed to appear before a disciplinary panel to answer the charges which were being levelled against him.

In his resignation letter, Mr Chikwekwe said: “I hereby notify you that I am resigning with immediate effect from the employment of the City of Gweru as substantive chamber secretary. It follows that I am also stepping down from the position of acting town clerk.

“This is because I cannot bear the toxic environment at the City of Gweru anymore, the hate against management and in particular myself for standing my ground against unethical conduct by a band of councillors who have been usurping executive powers and failing to appreciate and apply the cardinal rules of the doctrine of separation of powers between councillors and management.”

Mr Chikwekwe accused the CCC-led council of “fixing him”, adding that the appointment of Councillor Josiah Makombe to investigate a matter of a tender in which he was fully involved is against good corporate governance and a bid to cover up for himself and other councillors who awarded the contract for servicing of Mkoba 21 and Randolph Phase 1 stands.

“Councillor Makombe cannot preside over a case in which he called for a Special Council Meeting and presided over allowing the signing of contracts before reviewing by the Special Procurement Oversight Committee (SPOC).

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“He cannot be a judge of his own matter,” wrote Mr Chikwekwe.

He also accused Clr Makombe of hand-picking his personal friend to chair the disciplinary committee tasked with hearing his disciplinary matter.

“The shock of my life came when I appeared before a disciplinary panel for the first time in person,” he said.

“I noticed that the disciplinary chair was a familiar face I had been introduced to by the former Mayor Josiah Makombe in 2019 after the suspension of the town clerk Ms Gwatipedza.”

Mr Chikwekwe said in 2019 he accompanied Clr Makombe to the disciplinary panel chair’s offices in Harare.

“He told me that he was a friend and would protect the council’s interest,” he said.

“After leaving the office I gave legal advice to the contrary. The former Mayor grudgingly abandoned the idea and another disciplinary authority was settled for.

“The hiring of this chair is not in good faith at all. If he was abandoned in 2019 what makes him legible this time? Allowing such conduct is tantamount to hiring mercenaries with a predetermined outcome.”

Gweru City Council spokesperson Ms Vimbai Chingwaramusee said she had not been privy to Mr Chikwekwe’s resignation letter.

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