February 28, 2023

Gweru Town Clerk challenges suspension

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SUSPENDED Gweru City Town Clerk Vakayi Chikwekwe has challenged his suspension without pay and benefits describing it as malicious and being driven by individuals on political lines.

Chikwekwe was suspended over an alleged tender scam which saw companies Sheasham, Cacas and Wackdrive winning tenders to service land in the city.

He says he is not sure what he wronged as there are contradictions between contents of his suspension letter and reasons stated in the special council meeting.

His lawyer Admire Rubaya has written to the Gweru Mayor Hamutendi Kombayi seeking clarity on the issue and also challenging his suspension without benefits.

It is his argument that Chikwekwe is just but a council employee with no power to award any tender but it was a collective decision by councilors in a special council meeting who are now seeking to save themselves from criminal liability.

In the letter dated February 27, the lawyers said Chikwekwe had no role in the awarding of the tenders.

“Our client is concerned with clear selective amnesia on the part of the council members relating to the memorandum of agreements for the servicing of Mkoba 21 and Randolph Phase 1 by Shesham, Cacas and Wackdrive.

“It should be noted and sight should not be lost that our client is just a council official who does not make decisions during council meetings.

“Careful consideration of the documents relating to the alleged tender procedures clearly exposes his arrest and suspension as an abuse of the criminal justice system by political players for political expedience,” the letter reads.

Chikwekwe argues that the tender agreement had nothing to do with him as it was signed by the former Mayor of the City of Gweru, co-signing it as a representative of the council.

He said the signing was preceded by a valid council resolution which was passed by the council.

“Thus, the million-dollar question is who should be answerable for the award of the tender in circumstances where there is a council resolution which empowers the signatories to proceed with the signing of the agreements?

“In the circumstances, where it is alleged that there was alleged unlawfulness in the process of awarding the tender to Cacas, Wackdrive and Shesham, the million-dollar question is what about Cllr J. Makombe who signed the agreements as well?” they questioned.

Chikwekwe is also challenging the set up of a special committee of inquiry against him saying it will not be fair on him as it is made up of councilors some of whom were part of the meeting that led to the awarding of the tenders.

His lawyers said they would approach the High Court on an urgent basis if the special committee is not disbanded.

“What further puts the issue of the special committee of enquiry into question is the fact that there are councillors who made the alleged offending decision to award tenders who have been appointed to the Committee.

“With all due respect, in the event that the committee has been legally set up, it is unjust and unfair for these councillors to constitute the committee in question in circumstances where they are seeking to save their own skins at the expense of our client who is an innocent soul,” the lawyers wrote.

He insists there is nothing criminal on his part and he is just a victim of abuse by individuals through the justice delivery system and Zacc.

“It is our client’s considered view that he did nothing wrong nor did he act in any manner which can be adjudged to be criminal in terms of the laws of the Republic of Zimbabwe.

“It seems as if the powers that be within the council are abusing the criminal justice system and Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission for our client to assume the alleged collective liability be it criminal or otherwise on behalf of the council which made the alleged offending decision to award the tenders.

“In all fairness, those who should be answering questions relating to the award of the tender to Cacas, Shesham and Wackdrive do not include our client.

“It should not be a matter of the council just making an uninformed decision simply based on the bogus charges that have been preferred against him by ZACC.

“Our client asserts that there are other members in your council who are abusing their powers to protect themselves and have embarked on a frolic of their own to protect their own skins in circumstances where they are the only ones who can explain their own decisions and not drag an innocent soul like him into issues that do not relate to him at all.

“It is therefore clear as daylight that our client being a mere council employee without a vote in council and /or decision making powers to pass council resolution did not make the decision to award the alleged tenders but the Council in its wisdom as constituted by 16 councillors made the ultimate decision to award the tenders in question to the specific companies,” the lawyers wrote.

Chikwekwe further states that the pre-contract agreement meeting was held in his absence.

The lawyers said there is no basis that their client should be on suspension without pay.

“There is no basis for the council not to pay our client’s salaries and benefits, more so in this case where there is clearly no case against him,” the lawyers argued.

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