The Gweru Mayor Councillor Josiah Makombe is reportedly under fire after he contravened a section of the Regional, Town and Country Planning Act by buying acquiring a stand measuring 7 341 square metres without change of land use, the Chronicle reports.
This is among the list of charges levelled against the Gweru Mayor by the government which gave Makombe 7 days to respond to the allegations levelled against him. In a letter from the Ministry of local government to Makombe, the government also said:
You allowed the sale of a 7341 square metre stand in the remainder of 17 Umsungwe block to yourself in May 2020 for a sub-economic price of $11 141,20 and in a reserved area, contravening section 49 (3) of the Regional, Town and Country Planning Act (Chapter 29:12) which states that notwithstanding an operative master plan or local plan or an approved scheme or the terms of any permit or any approval issued interns of part III, IV, or V of the repealed Act, the Minister may authorise the use of any reserved land for a purpose other than for which it was reserved: provided that the Minister shall not authorise any use in terms of this subsection until: (a) he has served notice thereof on the local planning authority, the owner of the land concerned and every owner of property adjacent to the reserved land and afforded them an opportunity of lodging objections or representations. A Ministerial approval was thus needed for the change of land use but you proceeded to buy the stand before the Ministerial approval, let alone for the same
The Minister also accused Makombe of being corrupt for failing to take action against a corruption case that were levelled against some of his subordinates:
You failed to take action against councillors whom your council disclosed in the responses to the investigation report on the city to have exchanged money with a candidate for the post of director of finance, thus condoning corruption. There was unethical conduct by the then Acting Director of Finance to which council decided to suspend the process. The interview process went on but was marred with serious allegations of unethical conduct involving exchange of money between the alleged winning candidate and councillors who set on the interview panel
The letter from the ministry further states that Makombe erred in holding unprocedural meetings from September 2018 to November 2019:
Evidence at hand shows that no request was given in writing calling for any of the 44 Special Council meetings. It is noted that from September 2018 to early November 2019, council held 72 council meetings. Of these nine were ordinary council meetings, 19 were committee meetings and 44 were Special Council meetings. In all these meetings, not less than six heads of departments were present.
The government started probing graft charges at the Gweru council after reports of rampant corruption at the council made headlines.