Abel Zhakata Senior Reporter
MUTARE City Council has resolved to approach the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission in a renewed attempt to recover $330 000 the local authority was duped by a Harare-based company that failed to deliver water pipes despite receiving payment.
Some parts of the eastern border city, especially Dangamvura high-density suburb, are facing critical water shortages chiefly because of the fraud case that crippled the water pipe upgrading project which was meant to avail water to every household.
Since 2010, the municipality has failed to recover the money despite winning a civil suit at the High Court.
Town Clerk Mr Joshua Maligwa made recommendations to council on August 7 this year that the local authority must refer the case to ZACC as “all possible legal channels have been exhausted.”
According to confidential minutes of a full council meeting which were availed to The Manica Post, Mr Maligwa said the looted public funds should be recovered.
In supporting his recommendation the town clerk rolled out the legal battles the local authority endured since 2010 in a bid to recover the money which has since been eroded by inflation.
“Sometime in 2010 Shitarzburg Enterprises (Private)Limited won a tender to supply water pipes to council. Council paid them $330 000 as a deposit to supply the pipes.
Shitarzburg did not and has not delivered the pipes,” he said.
“On October 20, 2011, council reported a fraud case against Shitazburg and after a full trial the company was convicted of fraud. The court made a clear finding that $330 000 had been paid to the company and it failed to deliver as per the contract. On May 16, 2013 the court fined the company and in addition ordered it to restitute the total sum of $330 000. An appeal was filed at the High Court,” said Mr Maligwa.
Sometime in 2012, the City of Mutare filed a civil suit at the High Court against Shitarzburg and Anderson Mwashita claiming $943 558,55 being the current replacement value of the undelivered materials.
“On June 3, 2015 the court passed judgement in favour of City of Mutare and ordered Shitarzburg and Mwashita to pay the money together with interest at prescribed rate from 30 Decembeer 2010 to the date of payment in full. Council was also awarded costs on an attorney client scale. The writ of execution was issued on June 29, 2015.
“The only hurdle is the payment of the restitution and execution on the writ of attachment as the whereabouts of Mwashita and the assets of Shitarzburg remain unknown. Council legal representatives engaged tracers who failed to locate Mwashita or any property belonging to the company. I hereby recommend that the case be referred to ZACC for investigations as the issue involves public funds and all possible legal channels have been exhausted,” he said.
Recently elected MDC-Alliance Ward 10 councillor, Xavier Upare, was in 2013 fired by the then Local Government Minister Dr Ignatius Chombo on corruption allegations after he was implicated in the water pipes scandal. Upare who was the chairperson of council’s procurement committee then was accused of receiving a $20 000 bribe from Mwashita as a token of appreciation for awarding the pipes contract to his company in unclear circumstances.