By Munesu Nyakudya
Norton legislator Temba Mliswa has called in the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) to investigate Ward 12 Councilor Laston Tachiona following accusations of fleecing local residents of money through a water scheme.
Officials from the anti-graft body, including Commissioner Thandiwe Mlobane and Investigative Officer Tazvitya, visited Norton recently and heard the allegations from resident association officials.
Accusations are that the Councilor, one of only two independent Councilors in Norton Town Council (NTC), created a water committee that is currently overseeing some boreholes and collects money allegedly for electricity payments to run the infrastructure.
The boreholes, originally installed by UNICEF and handed over to NTC, were electrified through an arrangement that included funding and material support from Norton Town Council, Mliswa, the Councilor and local residents.
The Councilor said his project, had managed to end perennial water challenges that have dogged Maridale for over 20 years and it was unfortunate that some critics were fighting him.
“Ward 12 water challenges have been there for over 20 years since 1997 mainly because of inadequate water supply from City of Harare and infrastructural design challenges”.
“People would queue for over 8 hours or go for weeks without water and in the event of breakdowns would go for even months without having been repaired, it was also labour intensive and the water quality was fast deteriorating due to rusting of underground galvanized pipes”, he said.
However, some residents are alleging that since the electrification they can no longer access the water due to failure to pay the money for the electricity whilst others accuse the Councilor of fraudulently benefitting financially from the setup.
Commenting on the issue Norton legislator Temba Mliswa said he was there to defend the poor who are now facing challenges accessing water and believed that no one should make people pay for water if they were not NTC.
“I bought two water pumps myself that were used at some of these boreholes yet I have not demanded any money, why is he taking people’s money?
“I have always said people’s monies should not be taken, it’s a sure way to end up in jail and the water committee is usurping the powers of the NTC which is constitutionally mandated to collect rates and see to it that people get water”.
“Such kind of schemes are the reason why we have problems with corruption when the law says something is illegal that should subsist, let’s not sanitise it”, he said.
The residents’ associations have since been called upon to provide ZACC with documentation supporting their allegations against the Councilor.
Investigating Officer Tazvitya said they would look into the issue and would need verifiable evidence.
“We don’t rely on hearsay but need concrete proof if there is any corruption taking place,” she said.
Water remains a perennial challenge for the town which still relies on Harare, and with the capital facing its own problems the situation has worsened.