Zimbabwe’s Local Government Minister Saviour Kasukuwere has suspended the mayor of Chitungwiza municipality and all of its 24 councillors for suspected theft of state land worth $7 million.
Minister Kasukuwere took the decision on Thursday after an audit report listed all the councillors and Mayor Phillip Mutoti as alleged illegal beneficiaries of the state lands.
“These allegations include rampant abuse of state land for personal benefit by both councillors and officials, and flagrant disregard of laid-down procedures for estate management,” Kasukuwere was quoted by local media News Day .
The accused officials were given seven days to respond to the allegations in the report. A three-member acting council was appointed to run affairs of the town.
The officials – 14 from the opposition MDC-T party including Mayor Mutoti and 11 from the ruling Zanu-PF party – were accused of allocating commercial and institutional lands to themselves at a cheaper price and then selling to others at higher prices.
The audit was conducted after President Robert Mugabe’s launch of a special committee to investigate illegal land sales in local authorities.
The Chitungwiza municipality has nearly half a million people.