…after US$43 000 goes missing
The City of Masvingo is at pains to explain the source of funds it used to complete a 200-metre stretch of tarred road leading to the Nyaradzo Life Assurance Company offices after the company had paid the local authority US$43 000 in 2016 but the project was never started until late last year.
The former Town Clerk, Adolf Gusha-led management is said to have arm twisted Nyaradzo to give them the money to tar the road but the project was never done prompting an inquiry from councillors.
It was established that Nyaradzo had initially offered to tar the road using their own resources in exchange of land next to their offices which houses the city’s fire department.
The then Hubert Fidze-led council turned down the offer but management is said to have clandestinely went behind the backs of councillors and demanded US$43 000 for them to do the project.
Nyaradzo is said to have given the money to council management in 2016 in anticipation that the road will be tarred but work never started.
Realising that the council had not started the project, Nyaradzo confronted the council and threatened not to pay their bills until the road has been attended to.
Pressed by councillors in 2019, three years after a payment was made, city engineer Tawanda Gozo said the project was never started because of the rains.
“Nyaradzo paid us the money in 2016 but we have not been able to embark on the project because of the rains. Whenever we wanted to start the project, we were disturbed by rains,” said Gozo.
After the inquiry, the council began preliminary work for the project but residents demanded to know where the money was coming from.
There was an outcry from residents after there was a sudden increase in their water bills, a development sources said was meant to raise funds for the Nyaradzo road project.
Masvingo United Residents and Ratepayers Alliance (Murra) spokesperson Godfrey Mtimba said the council needs to explain where they got the money for the Nyaradzo road project because what Nyaradzo paid was blown by management.
“The council received US$43 000 from Nyaradzo and they were silent about it. The councillors did not even know about the transaction.
“We only got to know about the money when the councillors quizzed management about it only to be given a lame excuse that it has been raining,” said Mtimba.
Mtimba said residents woke up to highly inflated bills for the services they were barely getting.
“The council inflated bills to finance the road project whose money they had blown. Heads have to roll at the council,” said Mtimba.
Former mayor Fidze said he was unaware that Nyaradzo had paid the money for the road project when they had turned down the offer.
“My council turned down the Nyaradzo offer and I am surprised Nyaradzo paid the money. The council was supposed to use its resources to tar the road but wed did not have them.
“Nyaradzo had the resources but the land they wanted in exchange was not a good deal for us,” said Fidze.
Gusha has since retired and the current management led by current Acting Town Clerk Edward Mukaratirwa has refused to comment on the issue.
The Nyaradzo road project was completed late last year but the source of funds remains a mystery.