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Friday, June 2, 2023

Chikwekwe faces vehicle theft charges

By Kelvin Kasiwulaya

The City of Gweru’s 698th ordinary council meeting this morning, resolved to report the suspended Acting Town Clerk Vakai Chikwekwe to the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) for allegedly stealing the local authority’s service delivery vehicle.

Chikwekwe who was suspended on February 22, 2023, without pay or benefits and stands accused of allegedly holding onto a council vehicle, registration number AAE 5600 despite a council resolution ordering him to surrender the vehicle.

Councilors resolved to immediately send Acting Chamber Secretary Mr. Tapiwa Marerwa and the City Chief security officer to go and file a theft of motor vehicle charge at Gweru central police station.

The urgent move was prompted by a question raised by Ward 11 Councilor Albert Chirau who asked if the council had made any progress in recovering a service delivery vehicle taken home by the suspended Acting Town Clerk Vakai Chikwekwe.

“Is there any progress on the recovery of a council vehicle that was taken by Chikwekwe? Council is failing to provide quality service delivery while someone went to Gokwe with our vehicle, and residents continue to mount pressure on us on the issue, please update us on the matter, it has been a month now,” he said.

Chirau also noted that prior to his suspension, Chikwekwe had taken the said vehicle without council approval hence the move could be absolutely deemed as theft.

In response to the question, the Acting Chamber Secretary Mr Tapiwa Marerwa said they had since reported the matter to the police as per the previous council resolution but however, the police advised them to seek a court order for the reclamation of the vehicle.

Further probing on the matter, Mayor Hamutendi Kombayi asked the incumbent Acting Town Clerk Mr Livingston Churu for a case number if the case was really reported to the police, but a case number could not be provided since the police construed the case as a human resources dispute between employer and employee hence advised the council to seek a court order before moving on to take the vehicle from Chikwekwe.

After hearing Churu’s response, Cllr Kombayi advised Mr. Marerwa to go and report the matter to the police and this time, as a case of car theft.

In support of the move to freshly report the matter, Ward 13 Councilor Catherine Mhondiwa said the vehicle should be recovered in the next 24 hours and former Mayor Councilor Josiah Makombe also noted that the said vehicle should be recovered without delay.

Commenting on the council’s resolution to report him to the police for car theft, suspended the City of Gweru, acting Town Clerk Vakai Chikwekwe said he did not steal the said vehicle and revealed that it was the council that owed him a brand new Toyota Fortuner SFX vehicle worth US$ 83 435.00.

“I did not steal the said vehicle, this was just a car that I used to conduct council business. As a matter of fact, the council is the one that owes me a vehicle. There is a cabinet approval document to the effect that the council should buy me a Toyota Fortuner worth US$83000.”

“In fact let, me send you the cabinet approval document, council should not shed crocodile tears over a US$30 000 vehicle, same applies, why do they want to cry over this car when actually a US$ 170 000 was destroyed in an accident and the person who destroyed it, was not yet officially appointed at council. I never touched that US$170 000 car as the Acting Town Clerk because I knew that the car was way above my pay grade; it belonged to a Town clerk,” he said.

Chikwekwe revealed that there are several individuals that went away with council vehicles.

“There are individuals who went away with council vehicles, Tigere went with a council vehicle for his condition of service, who complained against it, who pushed for his arrest? Manatsa also went away with a council vehicle and the vehicle was involved in an accident. Who pushed for his arrest? Just because we are of different political affiliations they just want to fix me.  If the car was really stolen, they should have reported the matter to the police, it’s more than a month now.

Asked if the said vehicle was given with any authority from the council to take the vehicle prior to his suspension, Chikwekwe said there was no need for authorization since he was the Acting Town Clerk.

“Authorization for what, remember I was the Acting Town Clerk, all those people who are driving council vehicles do they have any papers or authorization from the council? I am an executive, I am not just like the ordinary staff, was I supposed to walk on foot as the Acting Town Clerk? Why didn’t they complain the first time they saw me driving the car? The people just want to abuse the police.

“It is the same issue that they are charging me with, they have since engaged lawyers over that issue, I think they are others who are desperate for my arrest just because they know that they are no longer coming back to Townhouse, after the elections. So they are so desperate they want to settle scores with me.

Commenting on the issue raised in the council meeting that he had taken Council resolutions with him, Chikwekwe said Councilors should ask the person that is in the office right now.

On the resolution documents issue, there should ask the person who is at the office right now, I was suspended whilst, at home, it was on a Friday I remember and I never got the chance to enter the office again, there was no handover takeover process, so the person who entered the office after my suspension knows where the documents are. Also, all the resolutions were binded and the copies are there at council , the mayor also has his copies.

The people at Townhouse think I have secret documents that might incriminate them, which I don’t have, I also need some documents from the resolutions for my defense.

“Please be advised that the Office of the President and Cabinet has, through the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development, approved your request to purchase non-locally assembled Toyota Fortuner, SFX Automatic vehicles for the Director Engineering Services and the Chamber Secretary, at a unit cost of US$83 453.00”.

Chikwekwe was suspended from the council in February following accusations of acting inconsistently or contrary to his duties as an  accounting Officer for the City of Gweru by awarding contracts for the servicing of Mkoba 21 stands to Sheasham Investments, Casas Properties and Wackdrive (Pvt) Ltd without clearance from the Special Procurement Oversight Committee thereby showing favor to the three land developers and disfavor to the other companies who bid for the servicing of Mkoba 21 stands. #The Sun



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