Munyaradzi Musiiwa Midlands Correspondent
POLICE in Gweru have arrested suspended Gweru mayor Councillor Hamutendi Kombayi and town clerk Mr Daniel Matawu over allegations of theft, fraud and criminal abuse of office involving a total of $185 000.
The money also includes MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai’s hotel bills during various visits to the city.
Acting Midlands Province police spokesperson Assistant Inspector Ethel Mukwende confirmed the arrest, saying the two were assisting with investigations while in police custody.
The two were arrested yesterday at around midday for allegedly abusing council funds and funding Mr Tsvangirai’s private visits to the Midlands capital at the expense of service delivery.
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“I can confirm that we (police) have arrested suspended Gweru mayor Hamutendi Kombayi and town clerk Daniel Matawu this afternoon (yesterday). We are preferring charges of theft, fraud and criminal abuse of office against the two.
“These allegations arose from the special audit that was carried at the council. I will furnish you with any relevant details pertaining to the matter once the investigations are completed. The two are still in police custody assisting with investigations. They will appear in court soon,” she said.
Thse rot was unearthed in an audit report compiled by an investigating team which was sent by the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing following a series of demonstrations and industrial action by council workers after they went for close to six months without being paid.
Following the report, Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Saviour Kasukuwere instructed the commission to put to task any corrupt official or any official implicated for any wrongdoing in the report.
Minister Kasukuwere said the commission should, as a matter of urgency, wield the axe on all directors implicated in the audit report for fraud, embezzlement and misappropriation of funds, wasteful expenditure, non-compliance with ministerial directives, non-compliance with statutory laws and failing to manage council’s assets.
He said the main thrust for any local authority should be service delivery and not unnecessary expenditure by either council or management.
This subsequently led to the suspension of Mr Matawu after it emerged that he had failed to execute his duties as an accounting officer and unlawfully authorised the release of money at the expense of service delivery.
Clr Kombayi and 11 other MDC-T councillors were suspended by Minister Kasukuwere on allegations of corruption, incompetence and abuse of council resources in August 2015.
Following his suspension, Clr Kombayi was in the eye of a storm after he held onto the livery collar (mayoral gold chain) and a council vehicle.
He was later ordered to return the vehicle and mayoral regalia by the High Court.