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Councillors, govt official clash over Gwanda-Maphisa road repairs

BY VUMANI MTHIYANE

Gwanda Rural District Councillors have clashed with a government official on the slow progress in revamping the Gwanda-Maphisa road.

The 66km stretch of road is in a deplorable state despite government awarding a tender for the rehabilitation of the road.

The issue dominated the full council meeting, with council officials quizzing the Roads and Infrastructure Development officer, Shingani Ncube, on why it has taken long for the road to be repaired.  

The heated debate was provoked by ward 8 councillor, Rachel Ncube who asked why the Gwanda-Maphisa road works had stalled.

“The Gwanda/Maphisa road project is more than a year now and hardly less than 2 km have been graded in preparation for tarring a mere 5km out of a stretch of 66km.

“Surprisingly, the earthmoving equipment and graders are on site and workers are always milling around doing nothing. Therefore, my question is who is supposed to supervise the contractor,” asked Cllr. Ncube.

Responding to her complaints, Ncube, surprisingly said it was not his responsibility to supervise the repairs.

“Our duty is to identify a contractor who comes through a tender process and once contracted it is no longer our duty to supervise their workers.

“However, the works stopped due to lack of diesel. The contractor needs 1000 litres per day to do his work. It is a fact that the country has no fuel unless if council has a garage that can give us diesel, then we can work,” said Ncube.

His sentiments did not go down well with the house.

“It pains my heart to hear such from a respected officer.  Unfortunately, my phone is not equipped with a camera. Had it been that I had a phone with a camera I was going to take a picture of the contracted workers whom I saw draining fuel from one of the graders at Makwe turn-off where they are stationed. I suggest the road be handed over to us,” said ward 8 councillor Ncube.

Without realising the level of provocation, he had caused Ncube continued with his strange responses.

“As I earlier said that I don’t supervise the contractor. The said workers might have drained those 20 litres of fuel under the instruction of their bosses in Harare. “Suppose they have not been paid and wanted to go and see their families in Harare, the only option was to drain and sell fuel to raise transport money,” he said.

Ward 19 councillor Thomson Makhalima interjected and told Ncube that their problems have nothing to do with council operations.

“Ncube you are the one who gave this company a tender and as council we cannot interfere. To say the truth, this is an insult to us because you are the ones who employed that company.

“It is your duty to supervise and monitor this contractor and if they are not performing accordingly chuck them off and contract a serious company. As councillors where do we come in?” asked Cllr Makhalima.

Ward 14 councillor Phineas Maphosa invited the District Administrator Rebelang Ndou to intervene and remind officer Ncube of his responsibilities as a government employee.

“D.A, I know that the department of roads is under you and Ncube must be reminded of the terms and reference of his line of work. So Ncube if you cannot supervise the contractor, then you are telling us that in your ministry there is 100 percent laxity. “You are portraying your ministry wrongly and bringing the name of Zimbabwe government into disrepute. Please D.A do something about this officer,” quipped Cllr Maphosa.

Council chairperson, Jorum Ndlovu added his weight saying they were appalled by Ncube’s behaviour before handing over to the D.A, who reprimanded Ncube for his behaviour.

“Thank you for giving me this opportunity, first and foremost I would to apologise on behalf of the government of Zimbabwe about such conduct.

“Secondly the issues raised are very important to this august house because we are here for developmental purposes. I am promising you fellow councillors that from this meeting we are going to sit down with officer Ncube and map the way forward,” she said.

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