Gweru Residents Association representatives have welcomed the suspension of City Town Clerk Elizabeth Gwatipedza with most of them saying the move was long overdue following her alleged failure to implement recommendations made by a Committee of Inquiry on a damning service delivery report.
Gwatipedza was suspended on Monday afternoon last week by Gweru Mayor Councillor Josiah Makombe, who served her with a suspension letter while she was chairing a management meeting. Gwatipedza was ordered to pack her belongings before she was locked out of her office.
Allegations against her include gross incompetence, insubordination, violation of the Public Procurement Act and Debt Management Act, failure to supervise departments, among others.
Speaking to 263Chat, Gweru Residents and Rate Payers Association (GRRA) director, Cornilia Selipiwe said non-action by the Town Clerk on the recommendations made in a service delivery report warranted the move by the Mayor who has been demanding improvement in administration at council.
“We applaud the move taken by council, it shows that someone cares about us, since January we have documents that pointed to the Mayor and his team demanding improvement in the manner in which business was conducted at Townhouse, but nothing came forth.
“I think the way the Town Clerk handled the issue of the (Councilor Albert) Chirau led Committee of Inquiry Report warrants that move. A lot was said that she was supposed to act on and by not acting she invited this on her own,” Selipiwe said.
Gweru United Residents Association Secretary General Reward Mhuri, who was part of the Committee of Inquiry that compiled the service delivery report, said Gwatipedza was protecting her subordinates who were fingered in the service delivery report.
“As residents, we are more concerned on service delivery. Mind you ours is a pressure group watching over councillors’ business and if they don’t deliver, we oust them.
“Residents want results not personalities; the Town Clerk was supposed to have acted on the recommendations not to protect anyone, which made her appear incompetent,” Mhuri said.
Gweru United Progressive Residents and Ratepayers Development Association Trust (GUPRARDA) Executive Director Pastor David Chikore said the move is to get rid of saboteurs at Townhouse.
“At GUPRARDA Trust it is not in our nature to celebrate the misery of a fellow human being, so we do not celebrate the suspension of the Town Clerk although we join the rest of the progressive thinking residents of Gweru in applauding our councillors for taking this bold stance to suspend the Town Clerk.
“It is our heartfelt hope that this latest move will result in ridding Town House of all economic saboteurs masquerading as technocrats at our beloved city… Clearly, if we are to go by the allegations raised in the report, then two or more Directors have cases to answer. Gweru has suffered long enough and deserves better,” Pastor Chikore said.
He said the suspension is to pave way for non-interference with investigations into charges levelled against the city boss.
Gweru Residents Forum director Charles Mazorodze said divisions at Town House should not compromise service provision and burden residents.
“City of Gweru is facing a litany of service delivery challenges but there is a need to strike a balance between political aggrandizement and purely administrative acumen. While we appreciate that Gweru City is embroiled in fatal factional fights both at policy and management level, there is a need to put their differences aside and seriously work towards improved service provision.
“The Matawu debacle in our own view should have taught His Worship Councillor Makombe and team that arbitrary suspension of management taking into cognisance that now residents are paying for the policy blunder,” he said.
Mazorodze said despite the various allegations made on Gwatipedza’s suspension, she had made several positive strides to try and improve service delivery in the city.
“There are several milestones that the current Town Clerk has managed to do including the sourcing of the new water pumps, procurement of refuse compactors among several others.
“On the other side policies also made by the August House should be implemented quickly so as to reduce the demand for public service and their provision, this might be only a tip of an iceberg of the serious service delivery challenges that Gweru City is facing and for now we monitor closely the developments happening at Townhouse,” he said.
The concerned service delivery report that caused the suspension of the Town Clerk was compiled by five councillors including the Deputy Mayor Councillor Cleopas Shiri, two Residents Association representatives and one member from the internal audit which mostly targeted the Engineering Department who recommended that, among other recommendations, the ‘Town Clerk must take appropriate action against the Director of Engineering Services for gross incompetence, inefficiency, dishonesty and negligence’, allegations that the department denies.