Gweru (New Ziana) – Recalled former Gweru Mayor Dr. Josiah Makombe has allegedly refused to hand over a US$170 000 Toyota Prado he had been using as his official mayoral car.
Dr. Makombe was recalled in December last year by the Douglas Mwonzora led MDC-T on allegations of crossing the floor to join the then Nelson Chamisa led MDC-Alliance.
Two months after his recall, the former mayor, who will be running on a Citizens Coalition for Change ticket in the March 26 local authorities by-election for Gweru Ward 2, is playing hide and seek with Gweru City Council authorities and residents.
Dr. Makombe, who played the same trick when asked to choose his allegiance between the two rival parties, has not made his position known.
Gweru residents have complained bitterly over the continued use of the Prado by Dr. Makombe “who did not finish his term and is now campaigning to come back as a councillor”.
Gweru Residents and Ratepayers Association (GRRA) led the calls for Dr. Makombe to return the vehicle.
GRRA gave acting Gweru Town Clerk Vakai Douglas Chikwekwe 48 hours to explain why Dr. Makombe continues to use the vehicle.
In a letter to Chikwekwe, which was also copied to the Midlands Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Senator Larry Mavima, secretary for Provincial Affairs, Gweru District Development Coordinator and the mayor of Gweru Hamutendi Kombayi, GRRA executive director Cornilia Selipiwe expressed dismay.
Selipiwe said what made matters worse was the fact that Dr. Makombe was using the same vehicle for campaigning for his bid to regain Ward 2.
“We have observed with concern that despite him relinquishing office, he continues to misuse the vehicle.
“The vehicle is being used as a campaign vehicle, carrying party supporters and activists and has had registration plates removed.
“May you furnish us with the justification for the abuse of the vehicle, which in our view remains a council pool car under the Gweru Mayor’s office.
“We seek your response within 48 hours, failure in which we will continue with our best interests at law including the courts as well as anti-corruption commission,” Selipiwe said.
Acting Town Clerk Chikwekwe said the issue would be deliberated in full council this week.
“The issue is going to council on Thursday where it will be deliberated. Council has processes and I urge you to come on Thursday so that you hear it for yourself,” he said.
When contacted for comment Makombe was evasive pointing out that he was driving and not settled on three occasions.
A councillor who spoke on condition of anonymity said it is the residents who are disadvantaged as council would have to procure a new vehicle for the new mayor Councillor Kombayi who replaced Dr. Makombe.
Dr. Makombe became mayor in 2018 and was expected to finish his term next year.
An insider within council said Dr. Makombe’s contract stipulated that he was supposed to buy the vehicle at book value upon completion of his term.
Ironically, Dr. Makombe soon after his election, he allegedly blocked former Town Clerk Elizabeth Gwatipedza from using the same vehicle as her official car on the pretext that it was too expensive and a burden to residents.