BY NUNURAI JENA
KAROI residents have demanded an investigation into the use of council and devolution funds after the local authority refused to disclose the source of money used in the purchase of vehicles and other equipment.
There are fears that government and council officials could be conniving in the massive looting of the funds as the disbursements of the devolution funds are shrouded in mystery.
The mystery was also laid bare a fortnight ago when Mashonaland West minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Mary Mliswa-Chikoka unveiled a wide range of equipment and vehicles in Karoi.
Chikoka unveiled a tipper truck, backhoe loader, a grader, 75 cubic metres refuse truck, ambulance, traffic tow and other vehicles to enhance service delivery provision at Chikangwe Stadium in the town.
In the minister’s speech there was no mention of the total value, or source of the funds.
Upon inquiry, Standardpeople was told that the equipment cost US$500 million from various sources, including devolution funds.
Pressed for comment, Karoi town chairperson Abel Matsika was evasive, saying the money included devolution funds and estate council funds.
“It was a cocktail funding of devolution funding and council estate money,” said Matsika
Pressed further to breakdown which equipment was bought using devolution funds, Matsika said it was administrative, and he was only a policy maker.
“Those are administrative issues that do not concern me as a policy maker. I don’t have that information,” he said.
But Karoi Urban Residents Association chairperson Trymore Chinembiri said the development fed into their fears that there was massive looting in the council.
Chinembiri blasted the Karoi council for failing to come clean on the use of devolution funds.
Councils receive devolution funds to undertake various projects informed by residents’ priorities.
In an unrelated case, a Covid-19 isolation centre at Makonde Christian Hospital has still not been renovated two years after the contractor was paid US$20 000 for incomplete work.
Unicef availed US$20 000 for the setting up of the isolation centre.
The money was sent through the Health and Child Care ministry and was meant to be used by December 31, 2020 failure which it was to be returned to the donor as per policy.
The Health ministry in conjunction with the public works department in the Local Government ministry called for tenders to refurbish the isolation centre at the church-run Makonde Christian Hospital and only two companies, including Blaines World Construction showed interest.
The renovation works were not completed despite the contract being paid in full.
Blaines World Construction director Bigboy Mpande was paid US$25 000 by the Health ministry head office in contrast to what was tendered at the province.
Unicef chief of communications James Maiden said they had: “zero tolerance for fraud and misuse of funds and robust systems are in place to ensure funds are used as intended, what is on the ground revealed otherwise.”