GOKWE town secretary Alexander Nyandoro has been placed on forced leave to facilitate investigations into a slew of corruption cases which have rocked the local authority, The NewsHawks has learnt.

Last year, The NewsHawks in collaboration with Information for Development Trust, carried out an extensive investigation which unearthed massive corruption at the local authority.
In the latest development, The NewsHawks learnt that while Nyandoro has been placed on forced leave for internal investigations by the Local Government Board, the police have also approached the council seeking documents for their own probe.

Jokonia Nyoni, the acting Gokwe Town Council secretary, confirmed that Nyandoro is now on forced leave and that the police have shown interest in his alleged corruption cases.
“The directive to place him on forced leave came from the Local Government Board. Police have also asked us to supply them with some documents,” Nyoni said.

In a letter dated 6 February 2024 gleaned by The NewsHawks, the Gokwe Criminal Investigations Department’s officer-in-charge, Detective Assistant Inspector S. Kamangira, wrote to Nyoni regarding investigations into Nyandoro’s alleged involvement in the corruption cases at the council.

The letter was referenced: “Request for documents which will assist in the investigations to commence in respect of the Gokwe Town Council Criminal activities.”

Part of the letter reads: “The above subject matter refers. This office is commencing investigations in respect to the criminal activities taking place at Gokwe Town Council. The Following documents are therefore requested: Chief Administrator Nyandoro … Contract of Employment; Transport Policy, Resolution allocating the car; Resolution authorizing sale and Resolution authorizing payment of mileage”.

Nyandoro is accused by councillors and corruption watchdogs of illegally pocketing
US$45 000 after he billed the local authority for the use of his personal car eight years before he was appointed acting town secretary.

He claimed the money from the council in September 2022. Nyandoro was appointed acting town secretary in November 2021 after the then Local Government minister July Moyo fired Joseph Mandlokuwa under a cloud.

Mandlokuwa had replaced Mellania Mandeya who again was suspended over corruption and later arrested. Nyandoro was touted as the broom that would sweep Gokwe clean, but the situation deteriorated on his watch.

One of the thorny issues is a 16 September 2021 council resolution in which Nyandoro is accused of arm-twisting council, which at the time was dominated by the Douglas Mwonzora-led MDC-Alliance, to pass a resolution to pay him US$45 000 for the use of his personal car.

He also acquired a Mazda BT50 double cab vehicle from the local authority for US$5 000 and also got a Ford Ranger that was bought for US$60 000 by the struggling local authority after another controversial council resolution in November 2022, according to council minutes obtained by The NewsHawks.

Nyandoro used his Mercedes-Benz E-class between 2013 and 2015 when he was still council’s chief administrative officer.

According to council minutes, he charged council US$60 a day for two years after arguing that car hire companies would have demanded US$150 a day for the same car.

Part of the minutes say: “From November 2013 to December 2015 Mr A Nyandoro had been using his personal vehicle for council business. During that period, he was not paid for use of his personal vehicle save for the period November 2013 to January 2015 when he was paid AAA rates for trips out of Gokwe only. For that period Mr A Nyandoro was requesting to be paid a total of ZWL$ bank rate of US$45 000.00 calculated at a rate of US$60.00 per day.”

The minutes further say: “He was arguing that the average market rate for hiring a Mercedes-Benz E-class vehicle was US$150.00 per day. His personal vehicle was a Mercedes-Benz E-class vehicle. The acting town secretary advised that he should not be paid the ZWL$ bank rate of US$45 000.00, but should be paid using current AAA rates since the transport policy refers to AAA rates (and) not market rates. He said he should also be requested to forgo payment for out of Gokwe trips.”

Councillors told this publication that there was no written approval from Mandeya, who was the town secretary then, to back Nyandoro’s claim that there was an agreement with council to pay him for the use of his car.

“That agreement would have stated exactly the duration in which he was going to use his personal vehicle and the charges which would be put down on paper,” said a senior council official on condition of anonymity.

“However, as it stands, there is no such paper trail. Again, there was supposed to be a council resolution made for that arrangement. That is how the council operates. That was abuse of office by Nyandoro.”

Council insiders said the arrangement did not make sense because between 2013 and 2015 the local authority did not have a shortage of pool cars, which would have forced officials to use their own cars.

Investigations revealed that between 2015 and 2018, Gokwe town chairperson Esther Sengwe was allocated a Mazda BT50, registration number AAE 7029, for official use.

Insiders said Nyandoro became Sengwe’s personal driver and when her term ended in 2018 the acting town secretary misrepresented that the vehicle was allocated to him, which enabled him to buy it for US$5 000 at book value.

A Mazda BT50 costs about US$48 000 on the market. The resolution to sell the car to Nyandoro was passed on 28 September 2021. It has emerged that the local authority boss bought the car without ministerial approval as stated in resolution 1279/21, which also paved the way for him to get the Ford Ranger.

Initially, some councillors were against the resolution, which resulted in the issue being deferred from 16 September to 28 September 2021. Councillors only bowed down to pressure after Nyandoro threatened legal action, official council documents show.

“After a lengthy debate of no consensus, members agreed to park the issue so that it could be discussed some other time after considering all merits of the issue,” the council minutes added.

“Nyandoro had recused himself from the debate and when he came back after he was briefed of the outcome of the matter, he expressed his displeasure and mentioned that Gokwe Town Council was a very cruel employer which was inconsiderate and heartless. He said according to council records this was the seventh time the issue was being discussed, with no results.”

“He said he felt abused by Gokwe Town Council since he had used his personal vehicle for free to transport the then council chairperson and even the director of finance when council had no adequate vehicles.

“He informed the council that he had no other option but to take the legal route so that the courts would give their decision.”

Obert Chinhamo, director of the Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa (ACT-SA), told The NewsHawks that his organisation is delighted that investigations into Nyandoro’s actions have finally commenced.

“ACT-SA is glad that CID Gokwe and the local authority itself are now investigating several allegations of corruption and other criminal activities. The local authority had turned out to be a haven of criminals,” Chinhamo said.

“We are profusely happy that investigations started and we have also been advised that the former acting town secretary Mr Nyandoro is on forced leave to facilitate investigations. We encourage the police, including Zacc, to investigate all allegations contained in our report of the 31st of January 2023. Staff and councillors should all be investigated.”

Added Chinhamo: “I will cite a few examples: Councillors should be investigated and charged for abuse of office when they passed ill-thought resolutions abused by council staff as ‘weaponry’ to advance their personal interests. More telling is the fact they all knew that the acting town secretary was not entitled to the BT50 as well as the claim of US$45 000 mileage.”

“The acting town secretary (Mr Alexander Nyandoro) should be investigated and made to refund the full amount of US$45 000 which he was wrongfully and unlawfully paid as mileage for the use of his personal Mercedes-Benz vehicle for work-related errands, yet the use thereof was not approved by the former town secretary. There were no logbooks found to confirm the same and also that the local authority had a vehicle that was available for him to use instead of using his personal vehicle.”

Chinhamo further said Nyandoro should also be investigated for wrongfully and unlawfully claiming a Mazda BT50 allocated to the council chairperson (Resolution 870/15) to be given to him as part of his contractual benefits as if it had been bought for him yet he was not entitled to the vehicle in terms of the old organogram.

“The former acting town secretary (J. Mandhlokuwa) should be investigated and charged for failing and/or neglecting to advise councillors to make proper decisions in his former capacity as the town secretary. The former acting town secretary ill-advised councillors to pass Resolution 1279/21 that was used to prejudice the local authority of a Mazda BT50 given to the current acting town secretary Mr Nyandoro,” he said.

“The payment of travel and subsistence allowances to Gokwe Town Council staff and councillors should be audited from 2018 to January 2023 considering the high suspicion that the same might have been abused for personal benefit. The allegations that the acting director of finance defrauded the local authority through travel and subsistence allowances should be investigated.”

Chinhamo further said the former council chairperson, Ester Senga, and all those who assisted her should be investigated for grabbing a commercial stand in the Kambasha low-density area measuring 8750 square metres for the construction of a lodge without paying for it and not following proper procedures.

“All these issues should be investigated and appropriate action taken,” he said.
When contacted for comment, Nyandoro said: “No personal comment,  but you can talk to my lawyer.”

His lawyer, Solomon Kangambeu, was evasive on the matter. Kangambeu initially said he was travelling and would speak later, but later said he was at a funeral and so he could not talk. Finally, he then said he was not obliged to comment on behalf of Nyandoro.

“I do not have his side of the story yet. As such, as it stands I have nothing to share with you. And for the record, I have not assumed agency as far as this issue is concerned. Like I said, I do not have instructions from him so you can’t refer to me as his lawyer on this issue. I’m sure you understand how lawyers operate. So may I refer you back to him so that he can give you his side since he is closer to the issue than anyone,” he said.

When reminded that in an earlier conversation he had agreed to issue a comment as Nyandoro’s lawyer, Kangambeu lost his cool.

“Get me right, I have represented him in other transactions, hence he becomes my client. But on this issue I do not have the mandate to say I am his lawyer and speak on his behalf because this issue requires that he give me specific instructions and I must also accept the instructions first before I can respond to your questions. Am sure you have dealt with lawyers before,” he fumed.

“Am entertaining you as a courtesy, otherwise I don’t do work when I am morning (mourning).” — NewsHawks

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